There’s no telling what good news you might find by reading your junk e-mail.

I was anxious about the direction in which our state was headed until I got this nugget from the business group Alliance for Maine’s Future.

Imagine my surprise to find out that all our problems are over:

“Alliance to suspend operations, mission accomplished.

With the outcome of the November elections, we are satisfied that a bipartisan majority now is in place to resolve the state’s most challenging issues in support of a new era of prosperity.

Therefore, the board of directors of the Alliance for Maine’s Future has decided to discontinue its education and advocacy efforts and will mothball its operations.”

Wow. Wouldn’t you like to have that to-do list:

State’s future, check.

Most challenging issues, check.

New era of prosperity, check – it must be quittin’ time!

Somehow this group of businesspeople that complained tirelessly about government spending and overreach for nearly a decade doesn’t see anything left for it to do.

Must be that “bipartisan majority” they’ve got in Augusta. Is that a reference to the House Republicans and the Senate Republicans? Because they are the only majorities I’ve seen.

This shows what the Alliance for Maine’s Future was all about to begin with – electing Republicans to serve in the Legislature, and now that it has achieved that goal, its work is done.

I wonder how many of the new members of the Legislature feel like their job is just a matter of showing up now? Or if Gov.-elect Paul LePage thinks the hardest part of this undertaking was getting elected? I have my doubts.

I’m sure they know they’ve got a lot left to do.

They are going to have to deal with a budget shortfall that is “only” $825 million instead of $1.2 billion, about the same as the last Legislature faced, only this time there won’t be federal stimulus or rainy-day account funds to keep them afloat.

As they try to balance the budget, they may find that not all the government spending is fraud, waste and abuse.

Most of those people the Maine Heritage Policy Center says are “trapped in welfare” are young children, the elderly or people with disabilities who get their health care through the state. Cutting them off from services is not going to free them from dependency or save the state much money. Because it would result in the loss of federal funds, significant cuts to MaineCare would actually cost the state money.

These are just the details that the new governor and Legislature will have to work out. The alliance did its job; the rest is up to them. Mission accomplished. It must be fun.

Considerably less fun is the information from another group, the Maine Children’s Alliance, which reports that if Congress doesn’t take action in the lame-duck session, money will be taken out of low-income families’ pockets and push more children into poverty.

This alliance is hoping Congress will extend unemployment benefits and make permanent the child tax credit for low- and middle-income working families, the marriage penalty fix, and allow for larger earned-income tax credits for families with more than two children, provisions that were all part of the stimulus bill and scheduled to expire at the end of this month. The alliance proposes paying for this by allowing the income tax cut on earnings over $1 million a year to expire.

The goal would be keeping more children out of poverty. That matters because childhood poverty is a traumatic event that can scar a young person in the same way intentional abuse does.

Poor kids don’t do as well in school, have more health problems, and are more likely to drop out before they’re done, says Maine Children’s Alliance President Dean Crocker. Dropping out of school costs them in the loss of future earnings, but it costs us all by depriving the state of a better-trained and more productive work force.

This alliance is probably never going to declare victory and go out of business. The problems are too deep and the solutions are too slow to develop. These problems will never be solved in a moment, certainly not by the results of a single election.

It will take a real bipartisan commitment in Washington and Augusta to make significant progress in the war on child poverty.

I can’t wait for the e-mail that tells me that mission is accomplished.

 

Greg Kesich is an editorial writer. He can be contacted at 791-6481 or: [email protected]