this is Representative Will Tuell of East Machias.
not usually critical, but last week’s special session has me shaking my head in
Mills herself stated: “I’m sorry it’s come to this. I’m kind of sorry I called
proper planning and foresight, the Governor and her administration could have
either seen this outcome as inevitable, or avoided it altogether.
the Legislature passed an $8 billion dollar budget, Republicans held firm
against borrowing another $163 million or even more.
Republicans are also concerned about the Governor’s repeated references to a looming recession and by rumors that she will present a multi-million dollar supplemental budget to us in January.
Rep. Will Tuell, September 6, 2019
agreed to pass a bond to fix roads and bridges because it was an emergency and
is matched by federal funding. For every dollar Maine spends, it is matched by
anywhere from 2 to 9 federal dollars.
are also concerned about the Governor’s repeated references to a looming
recession and by rumors that she will present a multi-million dollar
supplemental budget to us in January.
one item that people have asked about the most is broadband for rural areas.
agrees that it is of critical importance to Maine’s future.
why didn’t Republicans vote for the broadband bond request during the special
session instead of asking for it to be considered when the legislature
reconvenes in January?
Before I answer that, some important things to keep in mind:
– Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham asked for the Administration’s broadband plan last January. She renewed her request throughout the session and again in the days leading up to the special session. Leader Dillingham was continually told that it was forthcoming but nothing was produced. Finally, on the Friday before the special session, she was provided with some basic details.
– Legislative Republicans were never invited to participate in crafting the revised bond proposals. There was not any agreement prior to the special session that we would pass anything but the transportation bond which we repeatedly stated publicly, and
– Thirdly, competitive grants are not funding for rural broadband. They may pit one community or region against another, but they are not real dollars going into rural areas in need.
stands to reason that if you ignore repeated requests for clarification,
responsible people are going to approve of your proposal.
when it is a non-emergency borrowing request made after passing an 11% budget
express disbelief and anger at the outcome of the session shows either
arrogance or a lack of awareness that has the potential to hinder future
Mills has referred to the Republicans as the “Party of No.” One editor
reportedly referred to the Republican approach as “Not the party of No, but the
Party of not now.”
are, in fact, the party of “get it right.” Rural broadband can be
taken up responsibly in January without interrupting the timetable for
approving and issuing bonds.
Rural broadband can be taken up responsibly in January without interrupting the timetable for approving and issuing bonds.
Rep. Will Tuell, September 6, 2019
want a responsible approach that truly targets rural, underserved communities.
Just because a bill title includes the words “rural Maine,” doesn’t mean that
it will, in fact, help rural Maine.
administration’s plan was to take the bond money and offer it through
competitive grants. I don’t know where you live but down here in
Washington County our towns don’t have grant writers, but towns in Cumberland
and York do.
rather than spending borrowed money to bring Cumberland and York counties from
99.8% and 99.5% coverage respectively (according to broadbandnow.com)
to 100% coverage, we should be focused on rural communities that don’t have the
advantage or luxury to staff grant writers.
nothing but lip service to pass a bond for rural Maine, when structurally, it
benefits the most populous counties in the state.
If we want to bring broadband to rural communities, we should develop a work plan similar to the Department of Transportation that will identify the areas most in need and most ready for broadband expansion then begin using money to move through that list.
Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham and I are submitting broadband
legislation for next session that will seek to develop this plan and ensure any
funding will go to municipalities most in need and ready for expansion.
goal is not to reward towns with large bureaucracies and staff grant writers, but
to serve rural Maine.
legislation will direct the Department of Economic and Community Development to
rank the most underserved counties and identifying the municipalities within
those counties most in need and most ready to accept expansion.
department would issue a work plan identifying which communities they are
working in, why those communities were chosen and how the communities not
receiving the investment can begin to move up the list.
confident this approach will better serve rural Maine in achieving the common
goal of expanded broadband.
resources are limited. They are even more limited after a session of one-party
majorities worked hard to set priorities, help create a strong economy,
practice fiscal restraint, maintain modest debt, and create a budget surplus.
returned millions of dollars to taxpayers and reduced the size of government.
this era where Democrats are systematically undoing these accomplishments, Republicans
will continue to fight for responsible policies that benefit all Maine.
This has been Representative Will Tuell with the Republican Radio Address.