Hello, this is Representative Trey Stewart of Presque Isle, the Assistant Republican Leader of the Maine House.
The first session of the 129th Legislature has now adjourned. Previous Republican Radio Addresses have outlined our concerns with the massive, unsustainable budget that Governor Mills and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate just passed.
Other addresses have focused on onerous new regulations on small businesses, limits on personal freedoms, or absurd ideas promoted in Maine by west coast elites with narrow agendas.
Today, I want to talk about another issue that makes life harder for Maine families, small businesses and everyone living in Maine.
The condition of our roads, bridges and transportation system.
Virtually everyone knows that Maine’s roads, bridges and transportation system are constantly in need of repair and improvements.
After another rough winter, the Maine Department of Transportation slashed more than $59 million in road and bridge projects from its annual work plan in an effort to stay within budget amid sharply rising construction costs.
Republicans understand the importance of our roads and transportation system.
Our large state, small population and limited resources dictate that we make transportation a top priority, because literally, every part of Maine life flows through it!
Unfortunately, the conditions of our roads and bridges was not a priority this session.
Democrats prioritized just about everything ahead of fixing our roads. They would rather spend money on abortions, illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, subsidies for windmills, climate change studies; the list goes on and on.
The nearly 8 billion budget that just passed contains next to nothing for transportation repairs and improvements. They spent 99.995% of all available monies, including the LePage surplus, and did not prioritize infrastructure improvements.
The only part of the budget containing any support for our roads is the additional $75 million in property tax relief Republicans insisted on for local communities and taxpayers. In addition to increasing the homestead exemption from $20,000 to $25,000, some communities may choose to use additional money to put towards their roads.
Nowhere is this lack of responsible prioritization more evident than in the area of new state borrowing.
After spending virtually all of the money you paid in taxes, Democrats proposed to borrow an additional $239 million.
The omnibus bond package they proposed includes some worthy projects that we wanted to consider. However, they refused to split them into four separate proposals so that they could be considered separately on their merits. One of the proposals was to borrow $105 million for transportation infrastructure.
After the $239 Million package failed to win the needed 2/3rds vote required for final passage, Republicans proposed passing a standalone $105 million bond for repairing transportation infrastructure.
It failed on a party-line vote, with Republicans supporting it, and Democrats opposing it.
The refusal of Democrats to support our compromise solution means that Maine voters will not get a chance to consider a transportation bond this year.
Our transportation plan, which was originally proposed by Governor Mills, would authorize the issuance of bonds for projects such as reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways, bridges and culverts and for facilities or equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails.
This ‘my way, or no highway funding’ attitude is a negative consequence of one-party rule.
It also illustrates lack of Democratic support this session for priorities that benefit everyone. Instead, Democrats focus on individual categories of people, the special interest groups that help them win elections.
Republicans see people as having individual, inalienable rights that should find expression in a free, open society. We do not want to have the government pick winners and losers.
When government picks winners and losers, you may win sometimes, but, more often than not, you will lose. Your rights may be bargained away to some other person or group with more money or political power than you.
Republicans support policies that benefit everyone… You know, like roads and bridges to a more prosperous future.
This has been Representative Trey Stewart with the Republican Radio Address, thank you for listening.
Trey Stewart represents House District 147, Presque Isle. He is the Assistant Republican Leader of the Maine House of Representatives.