GORHAM — The Maine Revenue Forecasting Committee recently delivered welcome news to the state: an unexpected projected $73 million surplus in revenue funds.

Almost immediately, Gov. LePage proposed moving the entire surplus to the so-called “rainy day” fund.

The fund, designed to protect the state from future funding challenges, is currently at $111 million, just short of the pre-recession level of $129 million. And despite the governor’s claims, Maine’s credit ratings are typically strong and stable.

No one is saying that we shouldn’t save some of these unexpected funds. Of course we should put some money aside to ensure the future strength of our state. But we can’t ignore the mounting and dangerous challenges that face our families and infrastructure today.

For years, Maine has had to make tough choices to recover from the Great Recession. As a result, we’ve fallen seriously behind other states who have continued to invest in their communities.

Maine spends significantly less than other New England states on basic, critical infrastructure including education, roads and bridges, and ensuring clean drinking water. In fact, an op-ed published recently in this paper by state Rep. Andrew McLean of Gorham, who serves on the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, highlighted these critical needs.

“According to the Maine Department of Transportation’s latest three-year work plan, we’re falling short of what’s needed just for basic road and bridge maintenance by roughly $168 million each year,” he wrote. “Last year, the department presented the ‘Keeping Our Bridges Safe’ report, which stated that we need to spend $70 million more per year just to keep our bridges safe.”

And Mainers across the state continue to ask for our help on significant challenges facing them that threaten their well-being now.

We’re fighting the serious drug crisis that continues to take Maine lives, working to put an end to rapidly deteriorating conditions at Riverview Psychiatric Center and answering the desperate call for education funding, which, if unaddressed, will hinder schools, increase property tax rates and further exacerbate community needs.

In addition, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have submitted proposals to fund widespread needs that are critical to their communities and their constituents. In fact, some of those same lawmakers are simultaneously supporting the governor’s “rainy day” proposal.

While the irony may be lost on them, the real-world result of moving the entire surplus to the “rainy day” fund means that the Legislature would have significantly less money to address other needs.

If the projected revenue surplus is accurate, we finally have the resources we need to address some of the urgent challenges before us, many of which will only continue to get worse with our neglect.

No family would deposit the entirety of their paycheck into their savings account without paying their rent for the month first.

We cannot handcuff the Legislature from using resources available to us to address critical concerns that undermine our future now. It is possible to save responsibly while dealing with the reality of the needs before us.

What do savings for the future mean for a family desperate to find affordable treatment for their drug-addicted loved ones?

What about parents facing rising property taxes or the potential loss of their child’s teacher?

What about exhausted staff members at Riverview trying to take care of their patients in increasingly dangerous circumstances?

Mainers need help now. Saving for the future while ignoring the pleas of Mainers in the present isn’t good governing, and it isn’t what I came to Augusta to do.

My job as a legislator is to responsibly address the needs of my community and the state, while protecting our future strength and well-being.

We will not be able to, nor should we, fund every proposal before us this session. We must take a responsible approach by addressing and balancing the needs before us with saving for the future. The current well-being of our families and our future vitality and competitiveness as a state depend on it.