Maine needs a paid family and medical leave program

If someone had told me that when I reached 72 I would be in this situation, I would not have believed it possible. Yet here I sit, pondering an uncertain future, fearful and depressed. In mid-November 2020, I contracted a terrible case of COVID-19. I knew my odds of survival were tenuous at best with underlying conditions. I was as ill as I have ever been, and I thought I might not survive. Yet here I am, hallelujah! However, I am plagued by long-term, residual COVID symptoms.

These symptoms aren’t the only long-term effects of my illness. When I contracted COVID-19, I also lost my job of more than eight years because the company I worked for had no earned sick time or family and medical leave available to me when I got sick. After I left, I discovered I did not qualify for unemployment benefits and soon ran out of funds to pay my bills. I fell behind. I’m worried I could soon lose my housing.

I wholeheartedly support paid family and medical leave. Had that been available to me, I feel certain I would not be in such dire straits now. Maine’s legislators have an opportunity to study the best ways to implement such a system here by passing LD 1559 “Resolve To Create the Commission To Develop a Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Program.” My message to them is to please vote your conscience and your heart and take care of the good people of Maine!

Thom Mauck,
Topsham

Property revaluations show we’re not all in it together

All civilians (private sector, non-government people) have all been hit hard by COVID-19. Salaries got cut. Anticipated bonuses vanished. Contracts cancelled! And yes, many are unemployed. Some try to comfort us by saying “we are all in it together.” But are we?

Flight from population dense areas, to rural areas (where COVID-19 does not spread so quickly) has done whacky things to real-estate sales. Appraisers declare that some of the sale prices have nothing to do with real value. Maine’s Constitution never contemplated a moment like this. Some local townships claim by Maine law and Constitution they must re-assess property values upward by 30%. While South Portland is a great example of this, others are also experiencing this problem. (Isn’t it funny how officials are always “helpless” when raising taxable values?)

If your tax bill stayed the same, because of a lower mil rate, town-wide re-evaluations would be of no interest. But, we are told, that due to other reasons, more than half of the people will see their tax bills go up, and the “lucky ones” may only see small increases. Again, funny how that works.

You might assume, that since we are “all in this together” your local government will also be using this time to cut their budget, and find efficiencies; just like every private sector business has done. If they made appropriate budget cuts, and create operating efficiencies, a lower mil rate would result. Ideally, since we are “all in it together” even though your property has been valued at more – your tax bill would be about the same, or maybe even lower.

When was the last time, your town government turned in a budget that is less than the previous year?  If they do that this year, then we are “all in it together.” If not, then you are suffering pandemic pain, while those in your town government keep on spending – or worse, spend even more. (Funny how for governments, everything is an excuse to spend more!)

Might you tell me again how we are “all in it together”?

Paul J. Fielding,
South Portland

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