This column was published by the Windham Eagle on September 15, 2023
I went to Augusta to try and make life easier for my constituents and the citizens of Maine. The cost of living in Maine has gone up dramatically since January 2021. According to the U.S Congress Joint Economic Committee, it costs the average Maine family an additional $625 a month more than in January 2021. That is $7,500 more a year to live in Maine.
It is getting harder and harder for people of average means to live in Maine, afford a house, or save for the future.
During that same time period, the State of Maine over-collected $1.5 billion from taxpayers. Because Maine’s Constitution requires a balanced budget, in the past year, the state returned more than $1 billion to taxpayers in the form of $850 and $450 relief checks. That only occurred because the Maine Constitution requires and balanced budget. It also happened to be an election year.
Along with my Republican colleagues, I proposed using the excessive tax revenues to make structural changes to our tax code so that people can keep more of what they earn to help pay bills. I do not believe that it is right that government has grown bigger while family budgets have gotten smaller.
Our proposal was a modest $400 million out of a $10.3 billion budget, especially for low- to middle income earners. In order to deny our proposal, and the opportunity to participate in a bipartisan budget, majority Democrats rammed through a partisan budget. They then used a parliamentary loophole top shut down the Legislature three months early.
On cue, the Governor called us back into Special Session” because our work wasn’t finished.
This abuse of the legislative process saddened me, because I went to Augusta to work for and with everyone, regardless of political party. I wanted a budget that addressed the needs of all Mainers, not just government programs, nonprofit advocacy groups, and well-connected lobbyists.
The budget that passed also eliminated the popular Senior Citizen Property Tax Stabilization Program before it had a chance to work. It did expand two existing programs — the Property Tax Fairness Credit and the Senior Property Tax Deferral Program which is good, but fewer people will be served. I favored making changes to the Senior Citizen Property Tax Stabilization Program instead of eliminating it.
I am hopeful that the Legislature will realize that the Maine public wants less partisanship and more collaboration on policies that benefit all Mainers.
It is an honor to represent part of Windham in the Legislature. If there is any way that I can be of assistance, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .My office phone number is 207-287-1440. You can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BagshawForMaine. To receive regular updates, sign up for my e-newsletter at https://mainehousegop.org/