A May 24 editorial (“Our Views: Thumbs up, thumbs down: A week in Maine news,” under the subtitle “Right call on asylum”) expressed approval of Attorney General Janet Mills’ opinion that Gov. LePage’s proposed rule that would deny General Assistance to applicants for asylum is unconstitutional.
The editorial approved the finding “even if she didn’t do it for exactly the right reason.” I, too, had some difficulty understanding the reasoning for her finding. It seemed to me that the attorney general had a desired outcome in mind and was looking for a way to justify it, however dubious the reason.
The editorial writer then commented that the proposed rule is “mean-spirited” and would “violate common sense and common decency as well.”
I was the “mean-spirited” one in favor of the rule who showed up at the Jan. 10 hearing in Augusta.
My objection is financial.
Under current rules, towns and the state each pay 50 percent of General Assistance until the outlay exceeds a certain percentage of a town’s valuation, at which point 90 percent is paid by the state (taxpayers). According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Portland, Lewiston and Bangor have exceeded that level and get the 90 percent reimbursement.
Those three cities comprise 10 percent of the state’s population, so 90 percent of their outlay is reimbursed by the rest of the state’s taxpayers. Which means 90 percent of us are paying for the other 10 percent.
The high-minded judgmentalism of the editorial writer is easy enough to arrive at when you’re using OPM (Other People’s Money).