FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saco - The local legislative delegation, including Sen. Linda Valentino, Rep. Barry Hobbins, and Rep. Justin Chenette have all expressed concerns over Gov. LePage’s two-year budget which was released last Friday.
The governor’s $6.3 billion proposed budget will eliminate state funds for programs that help the elderly pay for medicine, gut property tax relief, and cut state funding to cities and towns, hurting thousands of Maine families and stifling the state’s weak economy.
“The Governor didn’t come out with a thoughtful comprehensive budget and instead is seeking to inflame a partisan divide amongst key constituencies,” says Sen. Valentino. “Having served on the Appropriations Committee in the House, I want to assure people that by the time the legislature votes, the budget will look nothing like what is currently proposed by the Governor.”
The municipal revenue sharing, which towns and cities like Saco, Biddeford, and Old Orchard Beach rely on for the funding of essential programs and services will be completely cut for the next two years. For the past 20 years, the revenue sharing formula has been flat funded.
“The elimination of the municipal revenue sharing over the next two years will cripple local town and city budgets like Saco that rely heavily on these funds for essential programs,” says Rep. Chenette who will tackle issues like this on the State and Local Government Committee.
According to the Maine Center for Economic Policy, the financial impact over the next two years translates into $1,668,488 for Old Orchard Beach, $3,852,707 for Saco taxpayers, and $4,742,265 for Biddeford.
Saco residents are poised to see about a 5.63% increase in local property taxes based on figures provided by Saco City officials if the budget passes as is.
“Instead of making the political tough choices at the state level, the Governor is instead shifting the cost burden to local officials to deal with the budget in the form of high property taxes for Middle Class families while keeping significant income tax breaks for the very wealthy in place,” says Rep. Chenette. “Saco residents have been burdened enough.”
"We need a balanced and responsible approach to this budget based on both our legal and moral obligations to the people of Maine,” says Rep. Hobbins. “Over the next few months we will be taking a look at the different aspects of this budget through our various committees to do what is in the best interest of Middle Class families to strengthen the economy."
Seniors will also be impacted through the elimination of the drugs for seniors program, a cost savings of $14 million to the state, but a program that Sen. Valentino says is too vital a resource to cut.
“Every year the drugs for the elderly program is reduced, a program that is vital for our seniors to afford the cost of the their prescription drugs. Like in years past, I will fight to increase funding for this essential program rather than slash it completely,” says Sen. Valentino.
“It is important to recognize both the good and the bad in this budget and not be quick to dismiss it if you’re a Democrat and not too quick to fully approve it if you’re a Republican. We must go item by item, initiative by initiative, department by department, to see what we approve and disapprove of,” says Rep. Chenette.
Rep. Justin Chenette