April 10, 2011

Letters to the editor, April 10, 2011
Quimby park gift controversial

So, Roxanne Quimby wants to give more than 70,000 wild acres to the federal government, hoping to create a Maine Woods National Park ("Another national park in Maine?" March 28). What a wonderful gift!

click image to enlarge

Environmental philanthropist Roxanne Quimby has proposed donating 70,000 acres of forest to serve as the beginning of a new national park in the Maine woods.

The Associated Press

Now nobody will be receiving any real estate taxes on that property. She, of course, will take a huge write-off on her own income tax so the government will lose all that income tax money.

There will have to be a visitor's center to build and staff, etc., etc. But it is a wonderful gift!

Who will really benefit from this? Roxanne Quimby.

Kay Havener

Many thanks to Roxanne Quimby for her vision and generosity with wanting to donate 70,000 acres to create the Maine Woods National Park.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that the full amount of land for the proposed national park would be 3.2 million acres, leaving 3.1 million acres left to be protected after Roxanne's contribution.

This area is part of the 10 million-acre heart of Maine's great North Woods. The Maine Woods National Park deserves the entire 3.2 million acres, so let us allow Roxanne Quimby and Percival Baxter to be an inspiration to all of us to do what we can to promote and support the creation of this park.

Baxter gave his gift of land to the people of Maine. Let us all work together to do our part to give a national park to all species, human and wild.

In a state that boasts 21 million acres, we can afford to protect 3.2 million.

Lee Ann Szelog

Cutting state pensions is unfair to retirees 

When my wife and I first started in state service we were told that you may not make as much as you would in the private sector, but you can count on basic health insurance and retirement.

This was particularly important because unlike most private workplaces, state employees have no Social Security.

They do not contribute to Social Security while in the service of the state nor do they receive a Social Security benefit for that time when they retire.

What's crucial to understand is that for state employees their pension is their Social Security. It is not on top of Social Security, but instead of it.

We are even penalized for any Social Security that we might have earned in the private sector previous to our state employment by federal law, which drastically reduces any such Social Security benefit. This is commonly known as the Social Security offset.

The governor's proposal to cut $524 million from the retirement of public employees is gigantic. Contrast this figure with the fact that the total that we have given up since 2003 in cuts to our pay and benefits is $149.6 million. Asking employees to give another $524 million is unfair, and places nearly all the burden for balancing the budget on public employees.

The backdrop against which all this occurs is a drastically increasing rise in the real cost of living. Gasoline and oil prices are skyrocketing. City councils and school boards are proposing increases in the regressive property taxes. Food prices are on an upward binge.

The net effect of the severe constraints on cost of living increases contained in Gov. LePage's proposed budget would be compounded over time, drastically decreasing the real value of retirement benefits.

Frank and Kathy Kadi
Retired state employees

Gov. LePage wants to pay for the state pension fund shortfall, ostensibly a shared moral obligation, entirely with increased deductions from the paychecks of public employees.

In the interest of fairness, I propose that if this increase is approved, the state Legislature should at the same time require that all prospective and current public employees be presented with the following Truth in Hiring Statement. The figures reflect current federal tax law and LePage's budget proposals.

(Continued on page 2)

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