Over the past months, Gov. Paul LePage has proposed large cuts to MaineCare, DHHS, General Assistance programs and children’s services.

The governor claims that these cuts are solely due to the current financial situation in Maine rather than trying to punish or harm impoverished Maine families.

With regards to the need for budget cuts, the governor’s website states, “We are borrowing money from the fourth quarter to pay bills in the second quarter. There are no politics involved with these facts.”

Well, here are the new facts. The Maine Revenue Service “found” $14.3 million.

Will these funds be used in an attempt to save some of these cuts? If we have more revenue, we can make fewer cuts, right?

Any other use of the money by the LePage administsration would show that budget cuts are not based solely on numbers.

As a social worker, it seems to me that impoverished Maine families are being targeted. I understand that this $14.3 million will not save our current economic situation.

However, it is a starting point. We can stop discussing budget cuts and focus on increasing revenue in Maine.

Let’s stop punishing victims of poverty and start focusing on “finding” more money so that families do not lose essential services.

Amanda Wing

University of New England student

Brunswick

State’s health care board must represent consumers

When I managed my cancer diagnosis, I surrounded myself with a team of doctors that I knew had my best interests at heart when making treatment decisions.

As was discussed in this newspaper, the Maine Legislature is considering legislation to set up a state-run health-care marketplace, or exchange, where consumers will be able to compare insurance plans and make decisions on the best options for them.

As part of the process, lawmakers are determining the structure and membership of a board to run the marketplace.

The board will be responsible for deciding what types of plans are offered to the public and what types of regulations will be placed on the health insurance plans that operate in the exchange.

In the same way that I trusted my team of doctors, I want confidence in the people who are placed in charge of making decisions about my health care options.

The board of Maine’s health marketplace should be made up of people with the interests of consumers in mind and who do not have personal or business conflicts of interest. Consumers and patients should have a voice.

The board should also be transparent and accountable — that means open meetings, publicly available documents and financial disclosures of board members to ensure that no conflicts of interest exist.

The Legislature has a responsibility to gather the right group of people to make health coverage decisions that could affect consumers and patients in Maine on a daily basis.

We must make sure that this board has our best interests at heart.

Ian Putansu

volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Falmouth

Readers offer different takes on Nemitz columns

On April 13, Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz wrote the following: “A few weeks ago, when S. Donald Sussman signed on as 75 percent owner of this newspaper, I resolved to write about his wife, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) only when absolutely necessary.”

I’m aware that Nemitz doesn’t actually write “news” articles. Rather, he comments and provides his opinions, often imagining he knows more about what’s good for Maine than people like, say, our elected governor, whom he prefers to describe as a 38-percenter.

But I’m digressing. Am I the only one bothered by his admission that because of Sussman’s majority ownership of the Press Herald, our representative in Congress is to be immune from Nemitz’s smugness and wise (at least in his opinion) critiques?

Should, perhaps, Ann LePage purchase some shares of ownership in the Press Herald? Are other writers at the Press Herald similarly cowed by Sussman’s ownership? Just asking.

Tom Zimmerman

Portland

There are many readers of Bill Nemitz’s columns who far outnumber those who think he is too harsh with his continued scrutiny of the questionable activities of Gov. LePage.

Since his election, the governor has draped a dictatorial mantle over his shoulders and forgotten that he was elected to help the state of Maine and not make it over in his own image.

Nemitz should keep nipping at his heels to bring to light any of the governor’s unfathomable and pie-in-the-sky statements and actions.

It is always a good idea to question authority.

LePage has reached that point in his career where he has hit a stone wall and has become the perfect example of the Peter Principle at work.

Bob Roffler

North Yarmouth

There are good reasons to dispose of butts properly

Cigarette butts are litter and smokers need to dispose of them properly.

On Saturday, citizens throughout Maine participated in events marking Earth Day.

We joined our neighbors in cleaning litter from some of the public open spaces in South Portland.

In doing so, we picked up hundreds of cigarette butts along with other debris.

Cigarette butts are litter and should be put in proper receptacles, but many smokers seem to think they can drop butts wherever they take that last puff.

In many ways, cigarette butts are more pernicious than other forms of litter.

They are not biodegradable, but are a form of plastic. They cause tremendous harm in the natural environment when ingested by birds, fish, turtles and other animals who mistake them for food.

Moreover, the harmful chemicals they have filtered out from a cigarette may leach into the environment. These effects are well documented in information that is easily available on the Internet.

Smokers, if you can’t kick that habit, please make sure you dispose of your butts properly.

Natalie West and Rob Sellin

South Portland