State legislators are sent to Augusta to do the hard work of legislating. That requires hearing other people’s opinions, weighing out facts, pros and cons, and then negotiating solutions designed to benefit everyone. If the people sent to Augusta are not willing to put in the hard work, time and effort, they should not be there in the first place.
This is Rep. Lester Ordway, of Standish, with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.
The recent vote to adjourn the Legislature, after meeting a total of three days this year, is an affront to the citizens of Maine and demonstrates an unwillingness to cooperate, negotiate, and legislate. Signaling that the work of the Legislature was officially done in March, instead of June, nullified the ability of elected Republican legislators, who represent over 400 Maine towns and cities, from participating in the construction of an $8.4 billion state budget.
To pass their so-called “majority budget,” they used a procedural trick that has only occurred three times in the last 70 years, and for good reason. Politics is supposed to involve the art of negotiation.
The Legislature will now be called back into Special Session on April 28th to finish the work it claimed was completed. That unfinished business includes over 1,600 bills and additional spending proposals that will not require good faith negotiation with Republicans and Independents.
The legislative process is designed to produce biennial state budgets that achieve two-thirds support from members of both parties. This support is the result of thoughtful discussion and give and take. The effort by Democrats to completely remove Republicans from this process is not good for Maine or its politics.
Democrats allege that they circumvented Republicans to prevent a government shutdown in June, which is absurd. Just weeks before, both parties negotiated a Supplemental Budget that passed unanimously in the Senate and 139-1 in the House. Never once have I heard one Republican colleague even mention a government shutdown.
In secret, Democrats drafted a one-page partial budget before all 16 policy committees had issued their recommendations to the Appropriations Committee. This partial budget was shared with Republicans just 15 minutes before it went for a vote.
This secret partial budget was voted on before the Consensus Forecasting Commission and the Revenue Forecasting committee issued their budget and revenue projections. At the time, the legislature had not received details on the American Rescue Plan, the federal relief funds that Maine will receive, which meant that Democrats pushed through an agenda without any sort of care or attention to facts, data, or direction on how funds can be spent.
This is politics at is worst. The Maine people suffer when one party decides that it does not want to engage in proper legislating. Rather than consider alternative views and negotiating a bipartisan budget, Democrats abandoned the traditional budget process.
I was sent to Augusta to represent everyone in my district—regardless of what political party they are in. Ramming legislation through, without thoughtful discussion, is toxic and runs counter to the goals of our Constitution and representative government.
Citizens deserve better from the people they send to Augusta. I, for one, want to include everyone in discussions on how taxpayer money is spent. The best solutions occur when everyone is at the table prior to passage of laws that affect everyone. That is what representative government is supposed to do.
House Republicans will continue to push for the legislature to fully return, with all safety precautions, to the Capitol building for committee work and legislative sessions.
This has been Rep. Lester Ordway with the Republican Weekly Radio Address.
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