October 7, 2012

Letters to the editor: Is state headed in right direction?

Readers disagree whether the proposals passed by the Legislature under Republican control have helped or hurt Maine.

In 2010, Maine elected a new crowd of legislators who promised to take the state in an exciting new direction.

click image to enlarge

Senate President Kevin Raye, left, and House Speaker Robert Nutting lead a Legislature that's been under Republican control since 2010.

2012 File Photo/Kennebec Journal

Introducing laws (many generated from models penned by the shadowy and corporate-friendly American Legislative Exchange Council), these lawmakers soon treated us to proposals to deep-six the effective bottle bill, to bring back highway billboards, introduce private prisons and even repeal the Maine Clean Election Act. All, fortunately, were defeated.

Undeterred by the lack of any real proof of voter fraud, our intrepid legislators then attempted to eliminate Maine's popular same-day voter registration law and sought to introduce onerous voter ID laws. These, too, were defeated.

There were some successes for our lawmakers.

After great debate, the whoopie pie was designated as the state treat and the "Dirigo March" was established as the official state march.

They passed a tax reduction bill that primarily aided the wealthy and a health insurance bill that made lives easier for companies to set insurance rates based on age and zip code (good luck if you are middle-aged and live in rural eastern Maine).

And they still had time to appropriate public money to fund a study for a private boondoggle called the "East-West Highway."

Meanwhile, our dear governor kept us (and the rest of the nation) all entertained with his battle against the North Korean-inspired labor mural and his bons mots concerning little beards on women, his discovery that "eagles don't pay taxes" and that "buying a Maine daily newspaper is like paying someone to lie to you." And who can forget his glorious attempt to exempt his papers from Freedom of Information laws?

It has certainly been an interesting two years, and as the old saying goes -- better luck next time. Next time is coming up -- Nov. 6.

Greg Rossel

Troy

I was more than a little surprised to see Rep. Emily Cain railing against "tax cuts for the very rich" passed by the 125th Legislature in her recent column (Maine Voices, "Republican agenda has not meant progress for Maine," Sept. 14).

The reforms will benefit all Mainers. In fact, they especially favor moderate- and middle-income families, who will see an average cut of $340. About 70,000 low-income filers will end up paying no income tax at all, as a result of the new 0 percent bracket.

So, is Rep. Cain suggesting that families who are struggling to make ends meet should be sending more of their money to Augusta at a time of declining wages and skyrocketing fuel prices?

Not only did the 125th Legislature give tax relief to Mainers who desperately need it, we also passed a responsible budget that gets the state's financial house in order and greatly reduces the unfunded liability for the pension fund. Just recently, we learned that retired state workers and teachers will receive a cost-of-living increase due to a budget surplus in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

None of these accomplishments would have been possible without new Republican leadership in the Maine Legislature. Rather than throwing partisan darts, Rep. Cain should applaud what has been accomplished for hardworking Maine families.

Rep. Jim Parker, R-Veazie

District 18 (part of Bangor, part of Orono and Veazie)

Place voters' interests first: Save Clean Election system

Are you enjoying the most expensive presidential election in the history of politics? I am not. As the Press Herald pointed out in a recent editorial, supporters of candidates on either side of the aisle are spending far more for dinner than ever (Our View, "Political spending threatens democracy," Sept. 23).

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