June 16, 2013

Dan Demeritt: Maine's state budget writers found the 'sweet spot'

Making the hard choices that are on display in this budget show what it means to govern.

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From a Republican point of view, this budget also makes important structural reforms. It begins moving the cost of teacher retirement from the state to the local level where spending decisions are made.

It advances the cause of charter schools by funding positions on the Charter School Commission. It also sets up a panel to consider whether nonprofit institutions should be subject to local property taxes.

More structural reform and hard choices are going to be needed in the future because Maine continues to confront grim economic and demographic realities. State revenues are flat because prosperity and economic growth remain all too elusive -- data released earlier this month confirms that income growth in Maine is the second lowest in the nation.

Federal government support for Medicaid continues to decline, putting more pressure on state taxpayers.

All the while our aging population means fewer workers and more pressure on entitlement programs.

This all means that Flood's legislative "sweet spot" will get smaller and harder to hit in years to come. Nevertheless the example set by the men and women serving on the Appropriations Committee shows that committed and thoughtful leadership can find a path forward no matter how dismal things get.

Dan Demeritt is a Republican political consultant and public relations specialist. He is a former campaign aide and communications director for Gov. Paul LePage. He can be contacted at:

dan@win207.com

Twitter: @demerittdan

 

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