Another two-year budget to fund the
operations of state government has been passed, signed into law, and will take
effect on July 1st.
I’m Senator Dana Dow from Waldoboro, Republican leader in the Maine Senate.
the budget debate, Republicans worked to ensure that the disastrous reforms
proposed for the Maine’s Workers Compensation system were rewritten into a more
balanced program that does not do harm to Maine businesses.
also made sure that local property owners get a break with a substantial
increase in revenue sharing designed to provide property tax relief.
Republicans fended off several proposed tax increases, including one allowing
local communities to charge sales tax; and we secured an agreement from
Democrats to not spend additional funds on the more than 200 bills that were
passed with a price tag of nearly a billion dollars.
not all of the budget news was good.
Democrats chose to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on state government
funded abortions at the expense of other important programs.
tried to raise the estate tax. They tried to let towns and cities tax you. They
even tried to tax water!
state spending grew by 11% in this budget, though the cost of living grew by
workers saw their wages grow by 2.4% last year, and they have to live within
their means. State government, on the other hand, somehow needed four and a
half times that increase to fund all of its various programs.
important of all, this budget is simply not sustainable over the two years it
will be in place. Democrats insisted on spending every dollar they could find,
including a large surplus left over from the previous year, and another $67
million from the state’s Rainy Day fund despite the current “Sunny Day”
the end of the two years, the budget will leave just $5 million in the bank,
and that’s if every rosy assumption it is based on comes true. Even a small
downturn in Maine’s economy could have a disastrous impact on this budget, and
there are some indications of real Rainy Days ahead.
a growing economy, eventually the steep rise levels off. Now, forecasts show a
steep decline in the increase of state revenues. There was a drop in growth of
80% just this year and a forecast that it will drop 40% again next year.
of these factors have already shown themselves. After years of nation-leading
growth in wages, Maine has fallen all the way to 40th, a decline
that began immediately after passage of the minimum wage referendum in 2016.
prosperity that began with the largest tax cuts in Maine’s history, back in
2011, launched our state on a path of great prosperity, including huge budget
surpluses every year since. This year alone, the surplus was $185 million. And
yes, Democrats have already spent that, too.
Republicans continue to resist the desire of Democrats to reverse those cuts,
and blunt the great economic times that have followed—record surpluses, record
low unemployment, higher wages, and more jobs.
Over the next two years, as state government moves forward under this budget, Senate Republicans will continue to fight for a common sense, sustainable government in Augusta. One that gets government out of the way of those who really make our economy succeed—the people and businesses of Maine who work hard every day to make our great state grow and prosper.