Keep their feet to the fire

There has been great discussion recently about the proposed cuts in Augusta and how those cuts will affect you and I. Some of the top items include the suspension of revenue sharing, funding teacher pensions and homestead exemptions to name a few.

This money belongs to the taxpayers and has been dedicated for years to reduce your property taxes, and in fact much of it is written in law! But when you spend more than you take in and make promises not to raise any taxes, the only way out is to steal from other funds. And this my friends is exactly what is being proposed in Augusta!

Revenue Sharing is established by law to provide 5 percenet of your income and sales taxes back to the cities and towns you live in. This was established long ago in lieu of local income and sales taxes. When revenues increase, revenue sharing increases, when it decreases we all do with less. Not once has revenue sharing been over budget, it simply can’t by the way it is designed. And revenue sharing is dedicated to one thing and one thing only, to reduce property taxes.

There are those in Augusta that want to steal this from you. They use spin that they simply “can’t afford” it and it has been a “gift” from Augusta for years and we all need to sacrifice. Baloney! The fact of the matter is that unlike your cities and towns, Augusta has been unable to keep its spending under control, plain and simple. The townspeople in my town did not fail to fund the pensions, they did not vote to bloat DHHS and they certainly did not vote to spend more than they receive.

If you were to contact your local selectmen and councilors you will find one of the major reasons your property taxes have gone up the past few years is the state of Maine’s failure to fund the 5 percent revenue sharing and the 55 percent to schools. They have raided and raided and it is time to tell them to stop, stop raiding revenue sharing, simply stop.

Make no doubt about it, if these thefts become realistic you will see some drastic reductions in services. In my town I can lay off the entire office staff and not fully cover the reductions. Major reductions in services will have to occur or dramatic increases in property taxes and fees. My town could see drastic reductions in services, meaning you may have to go to Augusta to get a hunting and fishing license, Rockland for registrations of vehicles, back to Augusta for ATV and Boats. In addition we would have to look at road repairs, how often we plow and other issues that reduce services you have paid for but is being stolen from you.

I have always believed that when I complain about something I should offer solutions, well here are some of mine:

1. We need to be realistic and it is not realistic to think we can simply cut our way out of this problem. Yes there are cuts to be made, but when you are practically bankrupt you need to find ways to raise revenues.

2. Income tax rates can’t be reduced when you are deep in debt; yes it should be an ultimate goal but not now. And I don’t believe in just taxing the rich, but everyone needs to pay their fair share, regardless of income.

3. We have to look at raising the sales tax, including Internet sales tax, not use the funds to increase spending but to pay off our debts. Make sure it is designed to sunset after the current debts are paid off.

4. We must find a way to reduce our DHHS cost, the state has lowered the thresholds for eligibility for years, and now the feds won’t let us go back up. We need to work on this elephant immediately and intensely. Yes it may take an act of Congress, but we need to get it done or we will never solve our financial problems.

For too many years the state finances have been on the gimmick plan, deferring expenses, overstating revenues with “WAGS” and simply not realistically balancing the budget. You can’t simply defer millions into the next fiscal year and claim you balanced the current year’s budget, it does not pass the straight face test.

I know that the taxpayers in my community can’t afford any more property taxes, we have been diligent in our local governments to keep municipal spending under control, and have always balanced our budgets. My citizens did not cause this problem and they should not be victims of theft by those who did.

It is only March now and the heat of the battle comes with last minute deals in June, it is imperative that each of you contact your representatives in Augusta, and continue to call them up to the final vote. Yes, the heat you put on them does matter and you don’t have to limit your calls and letters to your local representatives, call all you can. Keep their feet to the fire and tell them you will hold them accountable for property tax increases caused by them stealing from you.

 

Jay Feyler

Union Town Manager

 

Gripped with addiction

I am so glad that the Courier is up and going again. I enjoy my home townpaper very much. The free exchange of ideas is what makes our country great and the letters to the editor are a great forum for that exchange. I want to express some of those ideas in this letter. I was watching the news the other night and listened to a representative for Maine introduce a bill that would legalize marijuana. The logic by which this representative used was a mystery to me. She said this bill would put marijuana into the hands of responsible adults and allow the state to tax it at $50 per ounce. I thought for a moment about that logic and arrived at an obvious conclusion.

First, we have done so well with that logic in dealing with the current epidemic of prescription drugs abuse in our culture, haven’t we?! With the rise of robberies at the seemingly targeted Rite Aids across the state for oxycodone, Vicodin, Percocet, and methadone clinics springing up in response to a problem those “responsible” adults created in the first place. The representative said that a large amount of the $50 per ounce tax would go to the drug rehab clinics across Maine. What kind of logic is that? That’s like giving a 2 year old a box of razor blades and a box of Band Aids at the same time! You might say who would give a 2 year old razor blades? We have enough challenges in our culture already with the current prescription drug abuse not to mention the bath salts epidemic recently impacting our culture. We found out how damaging cigarettes can be and now we are suing big tobacco companies for not telling us that inhaling 20 or more toxins into our bodies was harmful over 20 years or more. So these same “responsible” adults will now help us to understand how “safe” pot is now. Pot makes you lazy and paranoid and a snack machine. We have enough lazy, paranoid, over eating folks in our overindulged culture already.

Second, in the same news broadcast I listened to another bill being introduced into Maine legislature at the same time. A bill which would ban bottled water from government buildings because of its unhealthy effect to the human body and it would save money by not buying bottled water. I looked at the reasoning in these bills and wondered where are the responsible adults in our culture? I thought, “are they kidding me?” On one hand we have a group fighting to introduce a drug that has adverse effects upon the body and on the other hand a group fighting to abolish a substance which we are 70 percent made of water. So we are not intelligent enough to choose water in a bottle or to drink at a fountain, but we are intelligent enough to allow the state to put marijuana into our hands and our children’s hands and even out grandchildren’s hands? I wondered, is this why we put these people into office? We want to limit access to guns by the criminal element in our culture but we will put pot into those same hands, again, “responsible” adults. Limiting guns from criminals is a task we should remain vigilant in and it still seems through our history crooks always find guns. So we continue to ensure guns don’t get into the hands of criminals knowing that crooks will always find away. We then should continue to be just as vigilant in keeping drugs as far from the reach of people as we can.

I know many addicted people in our culture and counsel dozens every year. We are gripped with addiction in our culture. I have counseled young men in prison for life for killing their best friends over girlfriends all because they were on drugs. I have counseled women selling their children and themselves sexually for drugs and store owners being robbed and murdered for drug money. I have counseled 8-, 9-, and 10-, 12-year-old kids who are alcoholics and addicted to drugs. Those same children trying to face life after being sold sexually by parents who are addicted to drugs just so they can have more money for their drugs. My idea would include keeping marijuana where it belongs, illegal and try loving our children every day and help keep them away from drugs. Get involved in their lives, not just providing food and shelter but spend quality time with them, investing in them as people.

Another idea would be to spend some time volunteering at a homeless shelter or drug rehab clinic, visit your prisons and see what these “responsible” adults are capable of. I would venture to guess that these representatives have not spent one second at any of these places because; if they had they would not even think of such irresponsible legislation.

My wife and I have spent 25 years traveling the U.S. in speaking and providing music to thousands. In this we spend time with these hurting people and drugs are at the top of the list as a leading cause of their pain. Not to mention the hundreds of nursing homes we visit where the past leaders of our country are being forgotten by the same hurting people that are addicted and lost. “Responsible” adults might see all this and continue to try and find solution to the problems, not contribute to it!

Rev. Charles LaCombe

Thomaston

 

A thought on gun ban laws

A person steals guns,

(WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW),

shoots and kills his own mother

(WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW),

transports these guns loaded

(WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW),

brings guns onto school property

(WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW),

Breaks into the school

(WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW),

discharges the weapons within city limits

(WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW),

murders 26 people

(WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW),

and commits suicide

(WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW).

And there are people in this country that somehow think passing ANOTHER LAW banning guns would protect us from someone like this.

If you haven’t noticed, people like this are not concerned about breaking laws — they only care about fulfilling their own twisted agenda.

The only people that a gun ban law would impact are the LAW ABIDING CITIZENS, which will only serve to cripple the ability to protect ourselves.

Gene Graves

Rockport

 

Learn the facts

The Midcoast region is home to many intelligent, highly-educated residents. They’re not afraid to ask questions or make their own decisions. In many ways, this is excellent. Unfortunately, it can lead to some poor decisions as well. For those of us who aren’t educated in the hard sciences, it’s all too easy to believe the negative hype surrounding vaccines and leave children vulnerable to preventable diseases. This not only endangers the children whose parents refuse vaccines, but the elderly, the immuno-compromised, pregnant women, and babies who are too young to be vaccinated. We have a chance to change this. Contact your legislators and show your support of bill HP 464. This bill still allows parents to exercise the freedom of refusal, but it insists that they learn the facts about the remarkable benefits of immunizations first. Armed with these facts, parents can make better decisions for their children, and children can attend school without fear of catching a terrible and preventable disease.

Chelsea Kidd

Camden

 

Support the library

When the money pool shrinks, responsible people tighten belts, strip away frills, live a little closer to the bone — especially in New England towns, where a history of hard lives eked out on wind- and sea-pummeled granite has bred respect for reality. Today, in the wobbly economic weather foisted on us by banking practices and warmongering politics, our public money can’t meet the demands on it and reasonable townspeople are having to make hard choices. In doing so, I hope we can all recognize the importance of institutions that make possible a more expansive future. I’m urging citizens of Waldoboro to support the budget for the public library, a force for education and opportunity in our community.

The library provides computers and free Internet access to everyone along with books, periodicals, movies, audiobooks, reference materials, and regularly scheduled programs. A few statistics illustrate its role in Waldoboro. In 2012, the library received about 19,000 visits, 27,550 items circulated, the computers and Internet were used 3,827 times — not counting after hours use of Wi-Fi — and 1,147 children and 417 adults attended programs. People were able to find tax assistance, job search aid, and literacy tutoring unavailable elsewhere in the community.

A good library is the heart of a town — a frequent query from anyone looking to establish a business locally is,”Does the town have a library? How often is it open?”— so, as we economize to live within our means, please let’s remember that the cozy children’s room is not just a source of pleasure but also a path to the resourcefulness our future generations will need, and that, if the town is to grow, its heart has to be a strong presence.

Brooke Pacy

Waldoboro

Increase dental care for kids

The lack of dental access for Maine’s children is a problem that we cannot continue to ignore. Our children not having access to dental care hurts them both inwardly and outwardly. Untreated dental disease compromises a child’s ability to eat well, sleep well, talk, smile, feel good about themselves and function well at home and at school. As a school nurse, I commonly see children in pain from tooth decay.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, only 35 percent of eligible MaineCare children received any type of dental service in 2011. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the problem will only increase with more than 5 million children worldwide receiving dental coverage. Local children here in the Midcoast covered by MaineCare must travel to Bath or Bangor for dental treatment. For many families, getting to a dental appointment means losing a half day’s pay.

In Maine, we have nearly two-thirds of our population living in rural areas, but only 13.5 percent of dentists practice in those areas. The number of children not receiving proper dental treatment is staggering and we must find an affordable and attainable solution for ALL of Maine’s children. Implementing dental hygiene therapists into our dental field is an excellent way to improve access to care, especially for our children. A dental hygiene therapist is supervised by a dentist and can perform routine cleanings, drillings, and fillings. This is similar to seeing a physicians assistant or a nurse practitioner for a doctor’s appointment. With these mid-level providers, we can provide quality, affordable care that is proven to be consistently comparable to that of dentists. I encourage our state legislators to do the right thing and help increase dental access for our children across Maine by supporting dental hygiene therapists. Why wouldn’t we want to make access to dental care as easy as possible for Maine children?

Kristin Nelson, RN

Camden