So…Who’s up for a Lean, Trimmed Down, and Efficient State Government?

Maine State Government WasteHere is a quick 12 step plan on how we can save millions to Maine taxpayers without raising taxes and without cutting necessary spending, while at the same time getting more of the people’s work done.

 

…So easy, even a politician could understand it!

  1. There are currently 151 Maine Legislators. Let’s send 50 home. That will save $13,000 per year, per legislator – Saving $650,000 (not counting benefits and travel)
  2. There are currently 35 Maine Senators. Let’s send 16 home. That will save another $13,000 per year, per senator – saving $208,000 (not counting benefits and travel).     Steps  1 and 2 combined will save $858,000  -  so far, so good.
  3. Start the work day like most working people do – 8:00 am, instead of 9:00 or 10:00 am
  4. Limit the number of bills to be reviewed - and the first 50 need to be emergency      measures that pass the straight-face test.
  5. The remaining number of bills need to be no more than what can be done by the end of the 1st year session.
  6. The 2nd  year session should be for emergencies only. In years past no one met in the 2nd year except for emergencies; and many states with far more people still do not meet in the 2nd year except for emergencies.
  7. Each bill costs $3,000 to $3,500 to pass through our hands, and that is only if it is done once.  Let’s say for example there are 1,750 bills presented. At an average cost of $3,250 per bill, this will cost $57,850
  8. Many of these bills are nothing more than silly bills that help no one, and accomplish little, if anything. There are simply way too many bills. These could easily be cut in half!
  9. Cutting the amount of bills presented in half will also cut staff and utility expenses, saving even more money.
  10. Just imagine the money that can easily be saved by using the technology we have      today – specifically, video conferencing.  Many legislators could do the same thing from their home districts that they travel to Augusta for.  The daily room and board rate is $80 per day, and the mileage rate is .44 cents per mile. The amount of staff would be less, and the daily operating expenses would be much less as well.
  11. What if we held elections for senators and legislators every FOUR years instead of every TWO?  With the same term limits we have now, we would save 10-12 million dollars every four years.
  12. In the first 4-6 weeks of each new session, we should have only those groups needed to meet first, to set up and organize scheduling of the sessions and the bills, in order to get things done efficiently. Way too much time is wasted in Augusta.  But as every business person knows, time is money. Government must learn this most basic premise!

All these ideas and many others can easily be implemented and quickly put in place, saving Maine taxpayers money, and getting much more of the people’s work done.  More ideas are on the way…

- Mike

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The Minimum Wage Increase Bill

I voted against this bill but I am not opposed to an in increase. I am just against the way this bill was put forth.

Truthfully, I would have voted to raise it to $8.00 or $8.15 and look at it again in a year or so. Making it mandatory at certain times is not even practiced in other segments of industry.

I have heard  all the arguments for and against and I still believe in an increase. However, I also believe that that those who brought this bill forward truly did not care if it passed. It was just to make political points to look like their hearts are for the people.

SHAME ON THEM!

They make it look like they want to give the lowest paid and the poorest people help – however, it is NEVER with their own money. Not only that, but this same group are the most unreliable in paying debts. owed by the state of Maine.

They have NO vision. They just keep looking back instead of leading. They are an army with no plan and no leadership. The best they wish for is to bring back past leaders to show them what to do and say.

Many new legislators (myself included) want to move forward on both sides of the aisle. I plead with that group of representatives in Augusta:

It’s time to take up the reigns and move forward.

Stop looking back, for it will be a LONG wait.

Mike

Posted in Key Issues, Maine House District 1, Minimum Wage Debate, News and Events, Out of Control Spending, Taxes and Spending | Tagged | Leave a comment

Gov. Paul LePage vetoes bill to ban teen tanning (LD 272)

This from the Portland Press Herald:

AUGUSTAGov. Paul LePage has vetoed a bill that would prohibit anyone younger than 18 from using an indoor tanning booth.

“Maine parents can make the right decisions for their families,” LePage tweeted. “This is why I have vetoed LD 272.”

In his official veto message, LePage wrote, “This bill does one thing: it tells Maine parents that Augusta knows better than they do when it comes to their children.”

“This is government run amok – Maine parents can make the right decisions for their families,” he added.

The veto is LePage’s second this session. It’s unlikely that lawmakers will pull in enough votes to override the veto given that Republicans were unanimous in opposing the bill.

The tanning prohibition bill passed along party lines in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. The Senate approved the measure, 19-16, on Wednesday. The House passed it, 82-63, last week.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Geoffrey Gratwick, D-Bangor. Gratwick, a physician, said in a press statement that he was disappointed that LePage “has put politics before public health.”

“There are times when science and medicine should supersede politics. This is one of those times,” said Gratwick, adding that “it is medically proven that teens who use tanning beds increase their risk of cancer by 75 percent.”

“This surely is a public health issue. It is definitely a safety issue. And it’s one that we should all stand behind,” Gratwick said.

The bill would have made Maine the fifth state to ban indoor tanning by minors.

New York, California and Vermont already have bans on the books. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, signed legislation Monday that prohibits anyone under 17 from using tanning beds and anyone under 14 from getting a spray tan.

The New Jersey bill allows 17-year-olds to use tanning salons if a parent or guardian accompanies them on their first visit.

Proponents likened the ban to regulations on tobacco and alcohol, saying the prohibition was needed to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Some medical experts argue that indoor tanning exposes users to a greater intensity of ultraviolet rays, thus increasing the risk of melanoma.

Christie’s move was noted by Democratic lawmakers in Maine, who hoped to persuade Republicans to support the ban.

Senate Republicans on Wednesday maintained that the bill was a “nanny-state” measure that overrode parental discretion.

Currently, 33 states regulate the use of indoor tanning beds. Eleven states are contemplating bans for people under 18.

In Maine, teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 can now visit a tanning booth with a parent’s permission, while those under age 14 are prohibited from using booths. State law also requires tanning facilities to disclose the risks of indoor tanning.

Republicans argued that there hasn’t been enough time to evaluate the effectiveness of the current law.

The new measure is backed by several groups, including the Maine Medical Association and American Cancer Society Action Network. During the bill’s public hearing, those groups noted that studies have linked tanning bed use to increased UV radiation and melanoma, the second most common type of cancer among people age 15 to 29, according to the American Cancer Society.

Medical groups testified that indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases the risk of skin cancer by 75 percent.

Gordon Smith, a lobbyist for the Maine Medical Association, said Thursday that he was disppointed but not surprised that the governor had vetoed the bill. Smith said Christie’s decision to sign a similar measure in New Jersey had given his organization some hope that LePage would consider enacting the Maine bill.

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Dangers, Unforeseen Consequences of MaineCare Expansion

“If history has taught us anything it’s that federal promises cannot be trusted”

House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette (R-Newport)

 

From the Maine Wire

AUGUSTA – Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services gathered in Cross Office building Tuesday for a packed public hearing on a bill that would expand Maine’s Medicaid program – also known as MaineCare – to include individuals eligible under the federal Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare.

“This bill will allow Maine to expand medical coverage under the MaineCare program to adults who qualify under federal law,” said Rep. Linda F. Sanborn (D-Gorham), lead sponsor of L.D. 1066, An Act To Increase Access to Health Coverage and Qualify Maine for Federal Funding.

The bill’s cosponsors include seven Democrats, five Republicans and one un-enrolled lawmaker.

Sanborn introduced the bill on March 19 following Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary C. Mayhew’s March 18 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regarding Republican Gov. Paul R. LePage’s willingness to negotiate terms for Maine’s acceptance of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.

[RELATED: LePage Offers Seblius Quid Pro Quo on MaineCare Expansion]

In her letter, Mayhew said the Governor is willing to expand MaineCare but only if the federal government funded Maine’s expansion at a rate commensurate with other states’, granted Maine increased flexibility via a “global waiver” program and agreed to fund expansion at 100 percent for ten years.

Democrats in Augusta took Mayhew’s letter as a sign that LePage might follow in the footsteps of several Republican governors, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who have caved to mounting public pressure and agreed to expand their state’s Medicaid programs.

Senate President Justin L. Alfond (D-Cumberland), House Speaker Mark W. Eves (D-North Berwick), Majority Leader Seth A. Berry (D-Bowdoinham), HHS Committee Co-Chair Sen. Geoff M. Gratwick (D-Penobscot), and Reps. Jane P. Pringle (D-Windham), Ann E. Dorney (D-Norridgewock), and Andrew M. Gattine (D-Westbrook). Sen. Richard G. Woodbury (U-Cumberland) is also a co-sponsor.

Republicans co-sponsoring the proposal include Reps. Carol A. McElwee (R-Caribou) and Ellen A. Winchenbach (R-Waldoboro) and Sens. Brian Langley (R-Hancock), Thomas B. Saviello (R-Franklin), and Rodney L. Whittemore (R-Somerset).

Maine’s Medicaid enrollment rate, at 27 percent, is the third highest in the nation and half again more than the New England average.

Speaker Eves said the bill would provide coverage for up to 70,000 uninsured Mainers.

“We all know people who could benefit from this,” said Eves. “I encourage you to think about those people.”

Sanborn said her bill was an “unprecedented opportunity” to expand health insurance coverage to Maine’s uninsured population and reduce health care costs by relieving the stress the uninsured place on emergency rooms. She said her bill would save Maine an estimated $690 million as the result of federal funds expansion would make available.

Her estimate comes from a November 2012 Kaiser Foundation study that shows Maine will benefit to the tune of $690 million because the state will be compensated for expansion that occurred in previous years. Several media reports, public statements, and even Eve’s testimony today, stated that both Kaiser and the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation have evaluated the impact of expanding MaineCare; however, Heritage’s report is merely a graph made with data from the original Kaiser study.

Placed in the context of Maine’s present biennial budget negotiations, $690 million is far from a panacea for the state’s budget problems. As Mayhew wrote, Maine is already facing cost-containment problems without MaineCare expansion: “Maine’s Medicaid enrollment has increased nearly 80% since 2002. We currently face a $270 million hole in our two-year budget as a result of increased cost in the program and the latest reduction to the federal reimbursement rate of our existing Medicaid program. Our hospitals are owed $484 million in unpaid Medicaid bills.”

House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette (R-Newport) urged fellow lawmakers to put the potential federal proceeds in perspective and said a decrease in federal matching funds was “inevitable.”

Fredette pointed to a pattern in Maine’s relation with the federal government whereby promised federal funds are increasingly withdrawn and Maine is left with the tab.

“If history has taught us anything it’s that federal promises cannot be trusted,” said Fredette. “One legislature cannot bind another.”

Fredette told lawmakers that MaineCare reform will only happen on a bipartisan basis and said there are provisions which could be added to the bill that would entice Republicans, including an exception that would allow Maine to opt out of expansion if the federal government did not sustain the promised funding levels.

Assistant House Minority Leader Alexander Willette (R-Mapelton) said the option to opt out of MaineCare expansion a few years down the road might not go as planned.

“Since when have we ever been able to draw back entitlement spending?” he said, adding that Maine Republicans would face an uphill battle in any attempt to opt out of expansion should federal funding levels change in the future.

“I think the power is in your hands to do this in a bipartisan way,” said Fredette. “But you also have to remember that the Chief Executive has a role to play.”

“Instead of taking whatever money the federal government offers, stand with the Governor and get the best deal for Maine,” said Fredette.

“This is not is not an ideological issue. This is a business deal,” he said. “We can’t afford to put ourselves into an untenable position ten years down the road.”

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What is top priority for democrats in Augusta?

Blaine House for SaleWhat is, exactly, on the democrats priority list with just over 2 months before the legislative session adjourns?  I can tell you what is NOT on their list:

  • 1. Cutting Taxes
  • 2. Cutting Spending
  • 3. Paying Maine’s Hospital Bills

Evidently, there are many more serious problems that the democrats in Augusta are concerned about, and here is just a partial list. Which of the following items do you think are important for the economic well being of the people of the state of Maine:

[Below is a summary of an article posted on the Maine Wire]

Selling the Governor’s House: L.D. 858, An Act To Partially Fund Tax Breaks for the Wealthy by Eliminating Certain Gubernatorial Benefits. Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland), who failed to attend the public hearing to present her bill, told the Bangor Daily News that she presented it because she thought Republican Gov. Paul R LePage “ought to know what it’s like for many Maine people who struggle to afford health insurance or a place to live.” Gov. Paul R. LePage, who spent a portion of his youth homeless, probably knows a thing or two about struggling.

Stealing the Governor’s Pension: L.D. 490, a resolution that would prevent governors from collecting pensions unless they serve two terms, is seen by many as a clear attack on the current Governor. The Governor poignantly hoisted his Democratic critics with a Tweet from his vacation home in Jamaica: “News Flash from Jamaica: If Democrats have my hospital bill on my desk by Saturday, I will give up my pension. Ya Mon!#mepolitics.”

Attacking Bruce Poliquin and Charlie Summers: L.D. 947, An Act To Ensure the Effectiveness of Constitutional Officers, introduced by Sen. Christopher K. Johnson (D-Lincoln), would prevent sitting Constitutional Officers from seeking federal or statewide office. The bill, which has six co-sponsors, would prohibit Secretaries of State, State Treasurers, and Attorneys General from becoming candidates for a federal office or for Governor and is implicitly intended to prevent candidacies such as those of former Secretary of State Charles E. Summers and former State Treasure Bruce Poliquin.

Attacking Charter Schools: The Democrats have sustained a campaign of wonton attacks – rhetorically and legislatively – against Maine’s public charter schools. The Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Rebecca J. Millet (D-Cumberland), voted to cut funding for Maine’s two operational charter schools less than 48 hours after National Charter School Day. Democrats are also pushing several proposals that would undermine the financial support of charter schools. Outside the Legislature, Democrat Mayor of Portland Michael Brennan is threatening to withhold funding from a Portland-based charter school.

St. Patrick’s Day Drinking at 6AM: Democratic Leadership confronted a most serious crisis in Maine: drinking at 6 o’clock in the morning on St. Patrick’s Day Sunday. LD 216, “An Act To Extend the Hours for the Sale of Liquor on Sunday When St. Patrick’s Day Is on a Sunday,” was sponsored by Rep. Barry Hobbins (D-Saco).  The bill to extend drinking hours from 9:00 AM to 6:00 AM initially met a cold reception from Governor LePage and Republicans who were frustrated by Democratic stalling on the governor’s hospital proposal. LePage eventually signed the bill with a smile.

Controlling Teenage Girls: The Democrats, under the auspices of cancer prevention, have introduced a bill to supplant parents as the shepherds of what is good for their children. LD 272, An Act to Reduce Youth Cancer Risk, prevents 16 and 17 year olds for using tanning beds. While, as the Bangor Daily News points out, tanning beds do pose health risks, Democrats have decided that it is the state’s job to tell Maine parents how they ought to raise their children.

Closing Fireworks Shops: Since the law legalizing consumer fireworks went into effect on January 1, 2012, there have been 17 retail fireworks stores opened in Maine, with three more in progress.  According to industry estimates, the stores now employ roughly 100 Mainers full time, year round.  They are hiring an additional 400-500 seasonal and part time workers. Yet Democrats in the Legislature want to pull the rug out from underneath these workers and business owners. And if you think this is a minor bill that only impacts a few Mainers, guess again. Our neighbor to the North has observed the rapid mutability of our business laws and is taking note.

Raising Taxes, Tolls, and Fees: Democrats animating desire this session may be fairly summarized by the Maine People’s Alliances cultish chant, “Keep Maine Healthy, Tax the Wealthy!” The Majority Party has submitted dozens of bills designed to redistribute wealth from Maine’s dwindling class of “wealthy” individuals. At the same time, however, they have pushed fee and toll increases which come directly from the pockets of Maine’s middle and lower class workers. House Democrats rammed through LD 405, “An Act To Increase Municipal Agent Fees for Licensing and Registration of Motor Vehicles,” with a partisan, 84-52 vote.  The bill authorizes a 50 percent fee increase for new motor vehicle licenses or registrations and a 67 percent increase for renewals. This measure was followed by a bill to hike tolls on I-295.

Anti-Business Wage Controls: House Democrats have passed a proposal to increase Maine’s wage controls. The bill, LD 611, is sponsored by Rep. Scott Hamann (D-South Portland) and pushed by the controversial Maine People’s Alliance.  If it becomes law, the bill will increase the minimum wage by $1.50—or 17 percent—over three years, bringing it from $7.50 to $9 per hour.  The bill would also set the wage control on autopilot, indexing it to inflation each year for the first time in Maine’s history.  The Maine State Chamber of Commerce estimates that LD 611 would give Maine the fourth highest minimum wage in the nation by 2016, despite its 42nd-ranked GDP per capita.

Please contact me with your comments and concerns. This is YOUR state. This is YOUR money. This is about YOUR future!

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Democrats in Augusta Love Tax Cuts… April Fools!!!

Why do the Maine democrats in Augusta hate tax cuts?

Good question.  The are still attacking a bill that they voted for in the last session and it seems they will never be satisfied unless they are allowed to tax and spend us into oblivion… This is no April Fools Joke!

“My caucus hates these tax cuts. It hates them.”

- House minority leader Emily Cain:

 

The full story by David Sorenson, Communications Director for the Maine GOP, is posted here, but for a quick summary, here is how the tax cuts from the last session will benefit Mainers:

Over $150 million will be returned to taxpayers over the biennium—an average of $115 for every man, woman and child in Maine—or $577 for a family of five.

About 460,000 households will see an average cut of $337.

Approximately 70,000 Mainers will no longer pay income taxes.

The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University calculated that the tax cuts will generate at least 3,700 jobs by 2015 and increase Mainers’ disposable income by over $270 million.

The 80 percent of taxpayers in the low- and moderate-income groups pay only 24 percent of the state’s total income tax revenue, but will receive 33 percent of the cuts.

A family of four with an AGI of $50,000, using the standard deduction, will enjoy an income tax cut of $300—a 24.4 percent reduction.

Despite a $994 tax cut in 2012, the richest 10 percent (over $119,000) will see their share of total income taxes collected rise from 55 percent to 57 percent, while the percentage of the burden paid by all other income groups will decline.

Middle-income families can expect a cut of about 15 percent, while families in the top 10 percent will see an average reduction of 8.4 percent.

As you can see, the Republican-led tax cut package of 2011 is not slanted toward the rich. But it does benefit all Mainers by providing real tax relief that puts more money into the pockets of hardworking Mainers and more money into the private sector economy.

 

 

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COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS PROTECT WELFARE DEPENDENCE AT ALL COSTS

We need to help lift Maine people OUT of the welfare system and AWAY from dependence, not do everything we can to keep them ON it!!!

PRESS RELEASE: COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS PROTECT WELFARE DEPENDENCE AT ALL COSTS

March 22, 2013Posted in: Press Releases

For Immediate Release: March 22, 2013

It may make some people ineligible for welfare!

AUGUSTA – While  considering LD 611, a bill sponsored by Rep. Scott Hamann (D-South  Portland) to increase the minimum wage, the committee considered an  amendment to raise the minimum wage even more than originally proposed.   Instead of a $1 increase with annual increases indexed to inflation,  the proposed amendment would have increased the minimum wage $.50 per  year for three years, also indexed to inflation.

There was one problem with this proposal, according to Senator John Cleveland (D-Androscoggin).

The freshman senator was  concerned that the higher wages may make some Mainers ineligible for  food stamps, Medicaid, and other welfare benefits. Sen. John Patrick  (D-Oxford) agreed.  The possibility that higher wages may lift people  out of welfare dependency (setting aside for a minute the reality of job  losses as a result of government-imposed higher costs on small  businesses) was too much for either senator to handle.

Perhaps the Democratic Senators were concerned that Maine would lose its coveted second-place standing among states for food stamp enrollment.  Or perhaps we would slide from our third-place ranking for availability of TANF cash welfare benefits and Medicaid.  Either way, Maine’s placement as the second-biggest welfare spender per capita in the nation hung in the balance.

“It seems the only thing  that could prevent these Democrats from punishing Maine’s small  businesses with mandated increases in their costs was the possibility of  losing people from Maine’s welfare programs,” said Maine GOP Chairman  Richard M. Cebra.

“Clearly, to Maine  Democrats, keeping people on welfare is one of few things more important  than punishing small businesses,” Cebra concluded.

###

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MEDHELP MAINE is here for struggling Mainers

Healthcare imageHaving trouble paying for your medicines?  There are many options for free or low cost prescription drugs, including brand name and generic assistance programs (PSPs), pharmacy discounts, co-pay foundations, among others.

MedHelp Maine is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring medication access for all Mainers unable to afford the prescription drugs they need.  MedHelp Maine develops hospital managed prescriptions assistance programs that serve area physicians and their low-income patients. It does not charge for its program development work.

Call MEDMAINE HELP for details:  207.793.4462

There are many options for free or low cost prescription drugs.  Hospital managed prescription assistance programs evaluate each patient’s circumstances, identify the best sources of help, and coordinate the access process for both patient and prescriber.  Patients who are having trouble paying for their medicines should discuss this with their doctors. These practitioners can then refer their patients to either of the following locations in Aroostook County:

  • Cary Medical Center via The Pines (call 207.498.1245)
  • Houlton Regional Hospital (call 207.532.2900 ext. 639)

 

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Monday Update, Feb 11th

Hi folks, it’s been awhile but i’m still on the job.

This week we start work sessions on some of the bills coming before our commitee. It should be interesting. One bill that really should be considered would put a limit to the number of bills in one year. All these bills often incur unwanted consequeces. We should have a review of older and out dated bills in these sessions also.

So many things that could be changed to make this place efficient, but thats not part of the focus. Any business in the state that would be run like our government could not survive unless it was awarded a bunch of state contracts.

The system has been unchecked for too long and loopholes have been and are being protected. I will do everything i can to bring common sense to the table. Fortunately there are others that feel the same way.

Thank you for all the prayers and support.

Mike

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It’s A Good Day…

It’s a good day!

Hello to all. We had a good committee meeting this morning with lots of questions and answers. There seems to be a genuine emphasis on working for the people in this group. There are times when we will not all agree, but the respect is present and the get it done mindset is there.

We have a heavy case load comming our way and this group is up for it. I’ve been meeting with groups and employers for the last 3 weeks and working an resolutions to issues. Please call me if you need help or have questions and i will do any thing I can. Thank you for all your support.

I would also like to mention that there are things that I am working on that are not public yet, and I will let you know in a while, when I am able to do so…

Blessings,

Mike

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