Growing into the job

As the 125th Legislature’s second session swings into action, encouraging signs continue to emerge from the Republican side of the aisle.

Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop, House chairman of the Appropriations Committee, announced Tuesday that he and his Republican colleagues on the committee oppose Gov. Paul LePage’s proposal to save $60 million by eliminating funding for private facilities that serve elderly, mentally and physically disabled Mainers as well as substance abuse treatment patients.

That stance against mean-spirited and ill-conceived cuts should, eventually, promote constructive dialogue with the Le- Page administration about how to achieve human services budget savings that won’t simply shift costs to families, hospitals, corrections systems and other compartments of taxpayers’ wallets.

On Wednesday, Republican members of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee broke a partisan impasse by voting with their Democratic Party colleagues to effectively kill a bill that would have prevented 2014 gubernatorial candidates from using Clean Election funds. The vote represents a small victory for Mainers who haven’t lost hope that they can buffer the integrity of the state’s election system from outside monied interests.

Meanwhile, recent reasoned statements from Senate President Kevin Raye and GOP leaders of the Transportation Committee represent the best bet to persuade LePage to open his mind to a transportation bond. Maine’s bridges, roads, railways and ports — along with its contractors — can’t wait another year for desperately needed work.

Kudos to legislative Republicans for opening this election year session with a focus on governance and leadership rather than political gamesmanship.

Politics before people

Gov. Paul LePage still seems to have a massive blind spot when it comes to recognizing the impact his words and actions have on regular Mainers.

The governor launched his 2014 reelection campaign Tuesday at a $500-aplate dinner. That’s the same day legislators returned to Augusta to begin dealing with a budget shortfall and LePage’s proposal to decimate benefits for poor, elderly and disabled Mainers.

The timing says much about his priorities and reveals last year’s campaign slogan, “People before politics,” to be empty, manipulative political pablum.

An easy fix

Naomi Schalit and John Christie of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting last week drew attention to flaws in the state’s disclosure laws related to legislators and administrators who leave before the end of a reporting period.

The logical response would be to adjust the law to require state decision makers to report all of their connections to entities that conduct business with the state annually or whenever they leave office or an administrative position.

The absence of such records creates an environment where distrust can fester.