January 20, 2013

Michael Cuzzi: Governor's budget a disappointing fiscal shell game

In using gimmicks, Paul LePage has proven more middling politician than savvy businessman.

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Legislators must also have an honest discussion about new revenues, whether it's the tax indexing already proposed in the governor's budget (yes, the governor proposed a tax increase), a marginal income tax hike for those making over $250,000 as proposed by Republican state Sen. Tom Saviello, or perhaps a larger tax reform package that has eluded prior Legislatures for years.

Despite the political costs or ideological aversions to this discussion, our financial situation positively requires that it happens.

Finally, taking a longer view, the best way to address our budget challenges is through growth.

On this score, both parties are missing the boat. If either has a well-articulated, integrated and innovative plan for sustainable economic development and job creation, I haven't seen it. The party that owns this discussion will reap the political rewards.

In the end, if legislative leaders can maintain a modicum of the comity and bipartisanship that they have demonstrated thus far, they can craft a responsible and balanced majority budget, rendering the governor's fiscal gimmickry and hypocrisy a disappointing side note to a disappointing first term. 

Michael Cuzzi is a former campaign aide to President Obama, Sen. John Kerry, and former Rep. Tom Allen. He manages the Portland office for VOX Global, a strategic communications and public affairs firm headquartered in Washington, DC. He can be reached at:


Twitter: @CuzziMJ


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