Politics

January 23

Maine communities make plea to avoid state aid cuts

But business interests argue that tax breaks and incentives are needed, and should not be sacrificed to avoid reductions in state revenue sharing.

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Presque Isle Chief of Police Matthew Irwin is flanked by firefighters from his community Wednesday as he signs up to testify on potential cuts by the state to municipal aid. Cops, firefighters and town officials lined up to testify on the bill that would avoid a $40 million cut in municipal revenue sharing.

Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

click image to enlarge

Waterville Mayor Karen Heck signs up to testify Wednesday at the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee in Augusta on potential cuts to municipal aid by the state.

Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“We’re at the point of where we really cannot cut anymore without losing significantly from our community,” he said.

Republican Rep. Tom Winsor of Norway said local and state government needs have to be balanced with those of private sector workers and businesses.

“We heard lots of testimony from town managers trying to protect their budgets, but the people I’m most concerned about are the ones who are hard at work right now in a mill or a food processing plant,” he said in a statement. “Without a strong economy, we’re not going to have sufficient budgets to argue about.”

Rep. Kathleen Chase, R-Wells, said the Democratic proposal was a non-starter.

“This proposal is a job-killer that ignores the elephant in the room, which is runaway Medicaid spending,” said Chase, the ranking House Republican on the Legislature’s budget-writing committee. “It’s a massive blow to Maine’s private sector economy that could mean many Mainers losing their jobs just as they’re getting back on their feet.

The looming impasse over the proposal could heighten the hurdle for passage of a supplemental budget bill. Last week the LePage administration said the state faces a $119 million budget shortfall that is almost completely driven by spending and revenue imbalances in MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program.

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:

smistler@pressherald.com

Twitter: @stevemistler

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