The 131st Legislature is nearly halfway through its’ First Regular Session. Legislative work and session days become more intense in the days and months leading up to the statutory adjournment of June 21, 2023. As a new member, I have learned a lot about the process and the issues of concern to Brownfield, Fryeburg, Lovell, Hiram, and Porter.
In addition to my work on the Joint Standing Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business, I have introduce bills promoting public, firefighter, and school safety. I have also co-sponsored Joint Resolutions recognizing Teen Dating and Violence Prevention and commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
In additional to considering over 2,200 pieces of legislation (public hearings, work session, committee recommendations and floor debate), the most important task of the Legislature is to adopt a Biennial Budget for the next two years. I appreciated hearing Governor Mills give her State of the Budget speech on Valentine’s Day. The Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs is holding hearings on her $10.3 billion proposed budget.
I have no doubt that there are good proposals in her budget that I can support, especially those that address pressing state problems and protect our most vulnerable citizens. I am, however, very concerned that the state budget has grown at an unprecedented rate over the last couple of years. The fact that Maine has over-collected over $1.5 billion in tax revenues from taxpayers and then sent checks back also concerns me.
I believe that the current state revenue projections and the historic size of the budget stabilization fund (aka ‘Rainy Day Fund’) create a situation where the Legislature can and should lower taxes. This would allow people, struggling to pay bills, to keep more of their hard-earned money. Government should not be getting larger while family budgets get smaller.
Please let me know if there are bills or issues of concern to you. I appreciate the opportunity to serve you in the Maine House. If there is anything I can do to assist you, or if you have questions or concerns involving state agencies, please contact me at Caleb.Ness@legislature.maine.gov.
Rep. Caleb Ness (R-Fryeburg)