Republicans Issue Budget Priorities

This is Representative Josh Morris of Turner with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.

House Republicans are focused on providing relief to Maine citizens and families struggling to make ends meet.

Just this week, Bloomberg Economics released a report that estimates the average U.S. household will pay $5,200 more this year due to increased costs for consumer goods. Last year, Americans paid an average of extra $3,500 more for their consumer goods.

Many people cannot afford to pay the increases they are seeing in the cost of electricity, food, home heating fuel, medicine, gasoline and other goods necessary for daily life in Maine. Our working poor, retirees, and those living on a fixed income, are struggling and the situation becomes worse with each passing day.

Republicans have continually advocated for structural tax change and the return of over collected tax revenues to the Maine people, and we are glad to see the Governor is backing one piece of a Republican ideal by including the disbursements in her supplemental budget proposal.

We do not control state government, so it will be up to Legislative Democrats to decide if they are going to support this initiative and return a portion of the over-collected tax revenues to Maine people. We are concerned they will move away from this proposal by choosing to instead grow government by creating new programs that will require you to pay even more taxes in the future.

This week Legislative Republicans shared the following initiatives to address how to return the $1.2 billion tax over-collection through the following initiatives:

First and foremost…

Returning Money to Maine Citizens

We propose returning money to Maine citizens by electronically depositing, where applicable, $850 to all filers, not just some. Our proposal increases the number of eligible citizens to roughly 920,000 Mainers and would include 120,000 more filers than the Governor’s proposal. We believe this over collection has been paid by all Mainers, and all Mainers are feeling the impact of rising costs.

Establish an annual Sales Tax Holiday Weekend in October                                                                        

Sales tax would be waived for a designated weekend, with some exceptions, and a $2,500 cap on any single item.

We believe this would help Maine consumers with skyrocketing costs and give them an opportunity to plan for needed cost savings.

Exempt State Income Tax on Pensions and Retirement income

This will help stop the flight of former Maine citizens to states that do not tax retirement pensions and takes an important step toward elimination of this and other burdensome taxes. 

Support our Healthcare System

  • Support Direct and Long-term Care facilities and their employees through cost of living adjustments (COLA) and increased rates to support wages at least 125% of the minimum wage.
  • Support nursing homes, hospitals, and long-term care facilities with: one-time supplemental payments; adjustments for inflation this year; and payments to assist with increased staffing costs.
  • Provide one time funds to the Veteran’s Homes in Caribou and Machias in order to delay their closing, and provide additional time to continue to work with stakeholders and industry leaders to target needed ongoing funding.

Additionally, in relation to Elder Care:

Support 600 additional slots for Section 63 in-home and community services to help keep older Maine residents in their homes.

Environmental Protection

  • Support addressing PFAS contamination on agricultural land, increase laboratory testing capacity, and provide necessary staffing to ensure focused and efficient use of funds.
  • Support for the Advisory Committee on the Fund To Address PFAS Contamination in the Change Package.

Energy Generation

Promote additional energy generation by eliminating the 100-megawatt limit on hydroelectric generators. In a time of rising energy prices artificial limitations on renewable energy sources should be eliminated.

There are also several other singular initiatives that we support in the proposed Supplemental Budget, but I mention these to highlight areas Republicans believe need to be prioritized.

Our members on the Appropriations Committee will continue to sit down with their Democrat counterparts and work collaboratively to negotiate in good faith in hopes to achieve a compromise on a supplemental budget that the majority of Legislators can support.

This has been Representative Josh Morris with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.  Thank you for listening, subscribing, sharing, and following us on Facebook and Instagram.

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