Legislature passes a budget with no tax relief, then adjourns  

 Rep. Caleb Ness (R-Fryeburg)

State government takes in too much money from individuals and families struggling to make ends meet. Our government continues to grow while working people have less money to cover rising bills. 

In January it cost an additional $625 a month more than January of last year for an average Maine household to live in Maine. That is $7,500 more a year.

Maine is the third highest tax burdened state by income in the country. In the last year, the state over-collected $1.5 billion from taxpayers, then returned part of it in the form of $850 and $450 relief checks. My position is that, rather than returning money that should not have been taken in the first place, we need structural tax relief to help people every year.

I ran for office to fix problems, and work cooperatively with others to make things better for the people back home.

That is why I am extremely disappointed that the ruling party refused a request for $200 million in tax relief targeted toward low- to middle income earners. The Republican proposal I supported represents 2% of a $10.3 billion budget that is expected to grow even larger when new revenue forecast projections come out later this month. 

To avoid working with legislative Republicans, Democrats passed a one-party budget, then pretended that the Legislature had finished its work in March, not June 24, the statutory end date. Having “finished its work,” the Governor then called the Legislature back into Special Session. We are now in that “Special Session” completing our work without a specific end date.

While I am disappointed that elected representatives of over 450 Maine municipalities representing 600,000 people were excluded from making a bipartisan budget, I will not stop trying to find a way to let struggling Mainers keep more of their money.

I do not care who gets the credit, I want results that will help the people back home.

 In better news, however, I have been able to do some exciting things over the last month that I believe can help many people. First, I was able to present a bill that would ensure MaineCare has to give a 60 day notice if someone is to be terminated. Current rules are set to a 15 day notice. Also, I presented a bill that would aim to keep our volunteer firefighters safer, by allowing them to have larger light arrays on the personal vehicles they use when responding to calls.

Lastly, I wanted to mention the fact that I have been receiving lots of input about the proposed “Rail to Trail” initiative. Currently, I’m gathering input and information to hopefully make the best decision for our community. I apologize for not getting back to everyone, but I want you to know that I hear your thoughts and concerns, and appreciate your input!

I appreciate the opportunity to serve you in the Maine House. Please let me know if there are bills or issues of concern to you, or if you have questions involving state agencies. I can be reached at Caleb.Ness@legislature.maine.gov.

 Thank you,

 Rep. Caleb Ness (R-Fryeburg)

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