Heating relief is good, but we need long-term solutions   

This is Representative Dick Campbell of Orrington with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.

This week, the Legislature passed its’ first major piece of legislation, LD 3 – “An Act to Establish the Winter Energy Relief Payment Program to Aid Residents with High Heating Costs and to Finalize the COVID Pandemic Relief Payment Program.”

Because of Republican negotiations, the bill returns $473 million dollars in over-collected tax money to 92% of Maine taxpayers. It also provides home heating assistance for low-income consumers, and emergency fuel assistance.

Like the $1.2 billion in tax revenues that Maine over-collected last year, the Maine Constitution requires that the money be spent so that the state budget balances, or be returned to the taxpayers. It cannot be carried forward.

Maine House Republicans pushed for returning money to as many people as possible, knowing that high energy costs and inflation are costing the average family $7,500 more to live in Maine than last year.

  • Because it is being returned, it does not add to the baseline budget going forward.
  • It does not defund or impact any current state programs.
  • It is a one-time return of monies to address historic inflation caused by unprecedented rises in energy costs.
  • $450 checks, are being returned to Maine taxpayers.

Make no mistake. This was not a perfect piece of legislation.

It was also not what would have been passed if there was a Republican governor, if Republicans controlled Maine House, or if Republicans controlled the Maine Senate.

Our members and Republican colleagues in the Maine Senate pointed out areas where LD 3 was flawed, or needed public input before passage. Alternatives were presented that failed to win support from any of the Democrats that control Maine government.

One alternative, a three-month state sales tax holiday, would have required a Maine citizen to spend over $8,000 to equal the $450 tax benefit being returned to 880,000 taxpayers.

Others would have directed the money to more ongoing state spending, or limited relief checks to only those making $30,000 or less.

House Republicans were successful in steering $473 million dollars of your money away from new government programs and back to 92% of Maine taxpayers.

But this is only a temporary fix.

House Republicans want to fix the over-collection of taxes and hold Democrats accountable for irresponsible policies that are making energy costs worse.

The Legislature will soon begin work on a new two-year budget, offering critics of current state policy an opportunity to be heard through the public hearing process.

House Republicans understand the need for immediate heating relief for families that are struggling, but without long-term relief, what was passed this week is merely a temporary approach to a growing problem.

This has been Representative Dick Campbell with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.

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