With a Stable Economy, Governor Mills needs to set budget priorities
Hello, I am Nate Wadsworth from Hiram, a House Republican member of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee.
In previous radio addresses, a number of my colleagues have expressed concern over the state budget proposed by Governor Mills.
We believe that the 11% increase where she has proposed to spend 99.995% of all available monies, relies on one-time funds, understates future costs, includes gimmicks and will ultimately result in tax increases, budget shortfalls and higher property taxes.
This is the first time Democrats have totally controlled Maine government in almost a decade. It follows 8 Years of Republican leadership were the economic situation of Mainers was improved through responsible spending and pro-job policies.
The concern of Republicans is for families to continue to benefit from an improving economy. Going back to the days of higher taxes, excessive debt and overspending will weaken the Maine economy and hurt everyone.
This week, the May revenue forecast was released. This is the last update that the Legislature will receive before a new state budget is finalized. It contained some good news in the form of a one-time $67 million increase of money for the current fiscal year and a steady economic outlook for the next two years. Once again confirming that when republicans lowered the state income tax the resulting economic growth lead to increased revenues.
Republicans are urging Governor Mills to take this opportunity to step back and set sustainable priorities, so that taxpayers are not required to fix obvious problems with the unsustainable budget that she has proposed.
The one-time monies can be used to address pressing needs that benefit all Mainers, not just the ones with pet projects or fulltime lobbyists seeking money for their organizations.
Here are some examples:
- The one time money could help repay some of the money recently taken out of the budget stabilization fund by the Governor. The so-called “rainy day” fund is there in case there is a recession or unexpected crisis.
- In New Hampshire, Governor Sununu has invested heavily in ensuring they can weather any economic down turn, something our Governor mentioned as a concern in her inaugural address. I hope Governor Mills will exercise similar caution.
- The one-time money could also be used in the budget to help support road maintenance. Our economy and livelihoods depend on safe well-maintained roads and if I have heard anything from my constituents this spring it is that our roads need fixing.
- The one-time money could also be used to lower property taxes by restoring revenue sharing cuts contained in the Governor’s budget proposal or by expanding the homestead exemption.
The one-time funding reported in May, is the likely result of late income tax filers. It should not be viewed by the Governor, Democratic legislators or their allies in the press as a green light for even more spending.
The revenue outlook for the next two years doesn’t project the surpluses seen over the current biennium. In fact the Fund for Healthy Maine, an account the Governor leans heavily on to support Medicaid expansion, is projected to have a forty percent loss in revenues, bringing in to doubt the state’s ability to pay for some of the Governor’s proposals. When taken together, the General Fund and the Fund for Healthy Maine, the net revenue for fiscal years 20/21 is not as the press reported $82 million but rather a more moderate $9.5 million.
Without prioritizing the one time money and revisiting her budget with a change package, the Governor has put us on the track to return to the pre-republican days of budget shortfalls and unpaid bills. As a Mainer in his thirties with two children trying to make ends meet in the state I love I cannot afford going back to those days and I’m sure your families can’t either.
The last eight years have proven that when the government takes less of our money, the economy improves as individuals and families make their own spending decisions.
We can spend our own money better and more efficiently than the government.
That point is proved by one simple fact. When taxes are reduced, government revenues go up because we the people invest in each other and grow the economy.
We do not have to spend 99.995% of all available taxpayer funds like the Governor has proposed.
The additional $67 million one-time revenues reported by the revenue forecast commission can be used to help fix Governor Mills’ flawed budget, and the modest revenue increases for the next biennium require us to prioritize how we spend your money.
The Governor should take this opportunity to step back and set sustainable priorities, so that taxpayers are not required to fix avoidable problems down the road.
This has been State Representative Nate Wadsworth with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.
Thank you for listening.
Rep. Nathan Wadsworth is serving his third term representing the towns of Brownfield, Fryeburg, Hiram, Lovell (part) and Porter.