AUGUSTA — When the Legislature adjourned prematurely last month, a number of important issues went unresolved. And if lawmakers don’t act soon, it could cause some serious problems for Mainers young and old all across the state.

Now is a time for action, a time for leadership – not a time for the rehashing of partisan fights. Lawmakers must return to Augusta to take up the time-sensitive work remaining: taking care of our direct-care workers and nursing homes, passing education legislation, approving critical infrastructure bonds and addressing tax conformity. These are issues that Democrats, Republicans and independents already agree on.

The most pressing matter that needs to be addressed by the Legislature is retaining our direct-care workers. Maine’s direct-care workers play a vital role in ensuring seniors and Mainers with disabilities get the care they need. And in an aging state like Maine, they are a valuable part of our community and economy. They care for our loved ones.

Tax conformity is another critically important bill that needs to be passed. The Legislature’s Taxation Committee worked long and hard to come to a compromise before we adjourned. This bill is important, especially to small businesses. We must act.

It’s time for lawmakers to return to Augusta with a clean slate and an open mind to pass this and other common-sense legislation.

Another essential bill that hangs in the balance in the Legislature is local funding for schools. When the Legislature adjourned, lawmakers had yet to take up this important annual legislation. It is a bill that typically passes each year without fanfare or controversy, and now it is caught in the crosshairs. School systems all over the state need this bill to pass.

Throughout my tenure at the State House, I have served on the Legislature’s Transportation Committee. So I know just how important the annual transportation bond is to maintaining the integrity of our roads and bridges. These are funds that the Department of Transportation relies on as a part of its budget. If the Legislature fails to act on this bond, many important projects will have to be put off until the DOT has the appropriate funds. These are roads and bridges that are in dire need of repair; we drive on them every single day.

There has been a lot of talk about who’s to blame and how we got into this mess. What message does that send to hardworking Mainers whose lives hang in limbo as they wait for the Legislature to get its act together? There is no reason for the people of Maine to suffer because of silly partisan squabbling. There has been enough finger-pointing, enough name-calling and enough stubbornness. Enough is enough!

The reality is, it doesn’t matter how we got here. It matters what we do next. It’s time to look forward, not backward.

What’s next is up to the governor – who can call us back in at a moment’s notice – or us. As lawmakers, we can also call ourselves back into session if a majority of each caucus in each chamber agrees.

So here are our options: We can spend more time and waste more ink by playing the blame game in the media. Or, we can call ourselves back into session and start anew to finish the work for the people of Maine. It’s that simple.

I urge my colleagues in the Legislature to put aside their differences and politically charged rhetoric and return to Augusta to pass legislation that we all agree is vital to the people of Maine. There are a lot of hardworking individuals who care about this state in both parties. And I believe this is something we can do.

 


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