As a Maine retiree, I want to thank our governor and legislators for reducing the homestead exemption from $13,000 to $10,000.

Because of the decrease in the exemption, our new property tax bill increased by almost $200, but since they didn’t raise the state income tax or sales tax, they made me feel a lot better about paying this higher bill!

I’ll just use my Social Security cost of living adjustment to help defray the cost — oh, that’s right, we won’t get a COLA this year, just like last year.

As I understand it, the homestead exemption program was created as “targeted property tax relief for residential homeowners,” but since the state has been unable to control its budget, we, the homeowners, must take another hit to assist our state leaders in finding more money for them to waste.

There is no longer a concern by legislators that there should be tax relief for anyone in the state of Maine, and I applaud them for that progressive thinking!

You are all doing a really great job, and I just wanted to share my thoughts with you since you don’t often get the credit you deserve. You have taught me that “getting tax-stabbed in the back” over and over again is really a good thing!

Please keep up the good work so that we can continue to re-elect you into office.

I would just ask that when it comes time for re-election, you do not call me, make me watch your television ads or ask me for a “generous donation” to your campaign fund.

Linda L. Allen
Windham 

It has been apparent for some years that the Legislature would prefer to add a tax burden to municipalities than further face up to its responsibility to reform tax law.

The property tax is progressive (own more /pay more), but sadly neither the Legislature nor, apparently, the director of the Maine Revenue Service understand that concept.

In 2003 a progressive homestead exemption was replaced with yet another giveaway to the better off. Now they are tinkering again and the poorer of us are impacted to a greater extent. Fortunately, the voters overturned a more onerous tax “reform” in the last election.

Come on, people, can’t you see “trickle down” is a scam? This is a consumer economy and if I have modest means I spend most if not all of my money.

If I’m wealthy and “create jobs,” I’ll send them out of state or out of the country to get wealthier, and an increase in my taxes will only delay the yacht purchase!

John S. Wood
Hollis Center
 

Animal lovers advised to buy plates to help pets 

If you are an animal lover, when it is time to renew your vehicle registration, please consider getting the Maine Animal Welfare Program specialty license plate.

It only costs an extra $20 and money from every plate sold goes to the Animal Welfare Program, which investigates animal cruelty and rescues animals from abuse, neglect and unsafe environments such as overcrowding and puppy mills.

Rescuing animals in these cases is very costly, and the program greatly benefits from the money generated by license plate funds. The plate sales also finance the Help Fix ME program, which provides assistance to people with low incomes to get their pets spayed or neutered.

This program helps reduce the number of unwanted animals given up at shelters or abandoned. The Animal Welfare Program and Help Fix ME do not get any income tax or general fund money so these voluntary contributions are critical for helping animals.

The plate has a great look with animal silhouettes in bright colors and gives you a way to publicly show that you care about animals. Join your fellow animal lovers who have already “stepped up to the plate.”

Ask for the plate at your municipal office or state motor vehicle office when you renew your registration.

Nancy Peavy
Augusta 

Better rail system makes touring more attractive 

After reading the article about the expansion of the Downeaster (“Rails to link Downeaster to Brunswick,” Aug. 1), I think there should be a change in the nation’s transportation priorities.

Especially in states like Maine, public transportation would help the state’s economy a great deal.

One idea is to expand the Downeaster even farther north to connect to the Maine Eastern Railroad and out to Rockland. As a nondriving resident of Boston over the past four years, there were more than a few times I looked into traveling the coast of Maine, but it was too expensive and took a long time.

Right now Congress funds roads at a rate of nine times more than it does public transit. It’s time that it starts funding and prioritizing public transportation to help out local economies by bringing in more tourists like me.

It will help create jobs while reducing the time that people spend in traffic on their commute. I’m calling on Sen. Olympia Snowe to support funding for high-speed rail and for public transportation in general to help local economies and create jobs.

No longer should a interconnected New England be a thing of the future, when new funding from Congress can make it a reality.

Athena Laines
Portland 

Not too late for Senate to pass climate, energy bill 

As we witness the worst industry-caused environmental catastrophe in our history, the worst coal-mining disaster in 40 years and sweat through the hottest first six months of any year on record, it is clear there’s never been a more critical time to move forward with a clean energy and climate policy.

Each day the Senate delays action, our enemies are enriched and our security is put at risk. Look no further than the fortune we send overseas to fuel our oil addiction. The United States spends $1 billion a day importing foreign oil, money that could be invested and put to better use here at home by creating jobs and keeping us safe.

As we look toward the future, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and other members of the U.S. Senate should use every opportunity available to address clean energy and climate reform by working to limit carbon pollution and invest in clean energy sources that are made in America.

This, in turn, will strengthen us here at home and abroad.

Zoe Geer
Rockport