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Rep. Kathleen Dillingham: Maine is overspending without meeting basic needs

Rep. Kathleen Dillingham is the Republican Leader of the Maine House.

Following is the Weekly Republican Radio Address.

Hello, this is Representative Kathleen Dillingham of Oxford, the Republican Leader of the Maine House.

This past Legislative session, we saw the enactment of the following policies into law:

-Expanding taxpayer-funded health coverage to 57,000 people, the majority of whom are able-bodied, childless adults

-Support for more windmills offshore and atop our scenic mountains

-Solar farms, some of which will cover productive farmland

-Electric car charging stations in rural Maine.

-Banning plastic bags and Styrofoam food containers,

-Removing the ability of parents to claim philosophical or religious exemptions from mandatory vaccinations

-Increased ethanol in gasoline

I point these out not to debate their merits, but to question the direction these types of California-based policies move Maine.

We believe they are not the most pressing needs of Maine citizens seeking to live, work and raise a family. They also do not address core priorities that have been neglected under this democrat majority.

These priorities include Maine’s roads and bridges, our nursing homes and direct care facilities, and people requiring behavioral health services, that are on wait lists.

The budget increased by 11%, close to $1 billion dollars, without adequately addressing what should be our most basic needs.

This hurts Maine and at risk families that depend on us.  

House Republicans have repeatedly called on Democrats to set priorities.

We have also urged the Governor and Democrats to put more money aside in the Budget Stabilization Fund, commonly referred to as the rainy day fund.

The Government Finance Officers Association recommends putting 17% of annual operating revenue into the rainy day fund.

The current fund has $237 million, or just 6.6% of operating revenue.

This makes the fund $415 million dollars short of the recommended allotment.

Though there may be $237 million in the fund, that doesn’t serve as proof that this administration and the majority, did not spend all available revenues.   

The rainy day fund has a purpose. It is there in case there is an emergency or economic downturn.

It should not be used as a slush fund for current or new programs, especially in a time of strong revenue returns when we have the ability to set money aside.

This session we have an extraordinary number of bills to consider in what is supposed to be an emergency session.

Many of these bills propose to create new programs with high price tags. If funded, they will require continued funding, leading to even larger budget increases down the road.

Some do not appear to be priorities that rise to the level of the Constitutional definition of emergency. These include:

-Changing the use of Consumer fireworks again

-Government wage setting

-Another healthcare spending advisory group

-A doctor’s note to purchase vaping products

-Allowing consumers to bring personal food containers when purchasing bulk food items

-Another commission on housing, and

-The purchasing of electric school buses

House Republicans remain opposed to new and expanding taxes on individuals and working families. We will continue to oppose tax increases on home heating fuel and gasoline, especially if we are not discussing alternative savings to taxpayers at the same time.  

House Republicans intend to negotiate, collaborate, debate the merits and substance of policy initiatives with a civil tone and in a spirit of cooperation as we try to move Maine forward.

It is disappointing that we have already experienced instances where this has not been the practice of some Democrats.

House Republicans will continue to adhere to this standard as we point out the serious implications of overspending taxpayer resources while neglecting core functions of government that benefit everyone living here.

This has been Representative Kathleen Dillingham with the Republican Radio Address, thank you for listening.

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