As I understand it, Maine lawmakers are offering a bill to enable school districts to spend some “found money” in the state budget without having local governments being forced to go to a local referendum (“Maine bill would free school aid without approval by voters,” July 1).

The only argument about this deal seems to turn on the whole idea of how to spend the money: whether it should be with or without local voter review.

The article reports that school budgets are all set for the year and that this $29 million was included in the state budget “unexpectedly,” which I take to mean, it wasn’t planned for, and, one would assume, therefore isn’t necessary since the budgets are all closed at this point.

Here’s a novel idea, Augusta: Give it back!

It isn’t your money to start with, and if it isn’t necessary to the school budgets, it definitely is to me and my fellow taxpayers.

Your baseline reaction shouldn’t be “how do we go about spending this extra money?” It should be “how can we get this unused money back to the taxpayers who it belongs to?”

I’ve got no problem paying taxes. I have a real problem paying more in taxes than is necessary.

Would that some crusading politician would stand up and say, “Not one penny more!”

Skip Simonds


Vendor of religious items will miss seeing customers

After many decades of serving the parishes and the community, it is with great sadness that we are closing our shop (“Ave Maria Gift Shop closing after 65 years,” June 29).

We would have loved to remain open, as it has been a part of our whole lives. This decision was not made lightly; a lot of thought and prayer went into this. Due to family health-related issues, we have decided to close to be with the ones we love.

We wish to thank everyone for all the support over the years. I have enjoyed doing business with the parishes and the community members.

I feel truly blessed to have been a part of so many lives and to have been part of so many different occasions in people’s lives.

I have met countless people over the years, and the most special and touching part of my job has been listening to the customers share their joys and being able to comfort my customers in their times of trial and tribulations.

I want to thank everyone who has supported the business over the years and everyone who has been a part of our life. We will miss everyone greatly.

God bless you.

Connie Somma

owner, Ave Maria Gift Shop


Plan to help ease warming will aid species, economy

President Obama recently took a bold step to address the threat and impacts of climate change with the unveiling of his Climate Action Plan (“Obama details sweeping plan to tackle climate change,” June 25). This much-needed step from the federal government is long overdue.

His plan to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants (which account for more than one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions) and to invest in energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy will curb the impacts our warming planet is having on wildlife and wildlife habitat.

We are pleased that a key component of the president’s plan is to implement climate-adaptation strategies for fish and wildlife populations, forests, freshwater resources and the ocean.

Here in Maine, warmer winters could cause a decline in populations of moose, lynx and our state bird, the black-capped chickadee. The increase in extreme weather and storms has caused increased flooding, property damage and road washouts, interfering with travel of fish and other aquatic animals up and downstream.

Storms and flooding have caused poor road stream crossings and culverts to wash out, creating safety issues for drivers and barriers for wildlife. Maintaining key habitat connections for wildlife as the climate changes is critical for their survival.

Looking at two key Maine species, brook trout and Atlantic salmon, we know they need cool-water refuges to survive the summers. As temperatures increase, it will be more difficult to find these cool sections of stream.

Investment in climate change adaptation strategies will also boost our state economy. In 2011 alone, state residents and visitors spent $1.4 billion in wildlife recreation. Climate change and its impacts are a large and complex issue. Working together, we can mitigate the effects of climate change and move forward with a plan that benefits both people and wildlife.

Ted Koffman

executive director, Maine Audubon


Speaker challenged to fulfill tax increases’ sunset clause

The state of Maine has entered the game of politics versus serving the people of Maine.

The new House speaker, wanting to gain a political victory over the governor, used the state budget. Speaker Mark Eves gathered the newsprint making sure that the governor, “who speaks his mind,” was the issue, deflecting the fact Eves has no idea how to solve the state’s budget woes.

While Eves may have scored his victory and may have even ensured a new governor, he forgot his true purpose as a leader in Maine: “to serve the people.”

At a time when families are making decisions between groceries and mortgage, the Legislature “temporarily” increases the sales and meals taxes.

A total of $365 million out of the pockets of the people into the coffers of Maine. “We can’t shut down the government …” or “… I did not want to raise taxes, but it’s the best we could do.”

A temporary tax to end in June 2015? All the politicians and all the people of Maine, add that date into your calendars. Call it “tax reversal day.”

Speaker Eves, I give you a challenge. If in two years these “temporary” taxes don’t go away, will you give up your elected position and return to the private sector?

Brian Ferland


Even his critics can’t deny truth of LePage’s remarks

I wonder if the letters you published about the comments made by the governor about Sen. Troy Jackson were written because of the choice of words used or because the letter writers know the sentiment is true.

People elected to the Legislature like Jackson have been harmful to Maine for a long time now. When is this state going to learn?

Mark Reilly


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.