Monday, December 9, 2013
This year, I was one of a team of volunteers who worked with AARP in Augusta during the legislative session. Our goal was to address critical issues on behalf of the 228,000 AARP members in Maine.
A forum on Medicare is an example of AARP activities that could use support, a reader says.
Staff file photo
I enjoyed serving as an advocate for those 50 and older in our state, especially for those who may not feel they have a voice in Augusta. Our team worked hard to make their voices heard and to make a difference. We attended committee hearings and testified on certain issues.
Right from the start, the programs being considered for massive cuts were the programs upon which our most at-risk neighbors rely, including the Medicare Savings Program and Drugs for the Elderly Program. These are among the services that help seniors stay in their own homes and communities.
Our team and many AARP members opposed the proposed cuts. In the end, 6,000 older Mainers will lose their program benefits. While that's better than the 72,000 seniors who would have originally been affected by the cuts, that is still 6,000 too many.
We also followed other bills of importance to seniors in Maine and tackled issues such as elder abuse, long-term care and telecommunication deregulation. Our team testified against the proposed telecommunication deregulation, which would have been terrible for low-income residents and those in rural communities. Mainers could have been subjected to reduced services and higher rates, but our efforts resulted in better consumer protections.
We are always looking for new volunteers, and there is more information about our work at aarp.org/maine. Thank you to all our volunteers who really made a difference during the 2012 legislative session. See you next year!
volunteer, AARP Maine Capitol City Task Force
Gov. LePage gives priority to corporate interests
The divide in America is not between political parties and their ideologies, between religious beliefs, between rich and poor or between value systems; it is between the corporate state and the citizen.
Paul LePage knows what he wants: a corporate state. LePage, his staff and his supporters clearly march to the following orders: Establish optimal conditions for private firms to enter Maine so that they may profit without interference. The marching orders follow a simple set of principles.
• Eliminate outside influence on compensation and benefits.
• Consolidate control of operating expenses.
• Remove controls (regulations) impacting freedom of action.
• Establish barriers that prevent challenges to the corporate state's control.
Removal of collective bargaining rights for child care providers was a symbolic message to corporate entities: "Maine is open for business, no wage/benefit concerns here."
Educational Commissioner Steve Bowen's dismissal of a citizens group was a message to corporate entities: "Maine is open for business; if someone gets in your way, they're gone."
None of this is difficult to accomplish if you have the legislative votes and pre-written legislation (American Legislative Exchange Council); critical thinking is not required.
Can it be more insidious? Revenue from within the state comes from state income, sales and real estate taxes. Reducing the state income tax more than likely places additional burden on sales and real estate taxes, and that is Paul LePage's intent. Those who can least afford real estate tax increases are the middle class and working class. Mainers will have to work harder and longer for wages and benefits more highly controlled by corporate entities.
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