September Consumer Price Index numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are
out, and things have gone from bad to worse for Maine families already struggling
with higher prices. According to analysis from the Joint Economic Committee
(JEC), higher prices for everyday goods means that the average Maine household
spent an extra $572 a month more in September than a year ago.
Even if we were to see a halt in price increases, the impact of current inflation over
the next 12 months will cost the average Maine household $6,865 dollars more
than last year.
This is House Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham of Oxford with the Weekly
Republican Radio Address.
In January 2021, the United States quickly moved from experiencing energy
independence, with gasoline at $2.38 a gallon and home heating oil at $2.27 a
gallon, to now experiencing a shortage. New England fuel stockpiles are only a
third of seasonal norms.
That shortage has resulted in our nation experiencing price increases across the
board because the cost of producing and transporting our everyday goods is tied to
the price of energy.
We all should ask, what role do elected officials have in the financial impact our
citizens are facing right now due to rising costs. When elected officials support
federal and state policies that increase the price of traditional energy sources, it
places a heavy burden on all our citizens.
As Mainers start to experience colder temperatures and we head into the holiday
season, people are facing:
Higher Heating Costs – The latest average heating oil price from the
Governor’s Energy Office is $5.43 a gallon, up over $2 dollars from a year
Increased Electricity Costs – The typical Maine household will pay an extra
$22 a month in electricity due to the high price of natural gas.
Increased food costs – Grocery prices rose 13.5% in Maine, the largest
increase since 1979. A typical grocery item, butter, has increased by over $2
dollars a pound from a year ago.
When the average Maine family must pay $572 dollars more a month just to break
even, it forces our citizens to make tough choices in order to survive.
It is the responsibility of elected officials to ease the burden on our citizens by
setting spending priorities and making tough decisions rather than pandering to
special interest groups.
It is the responsibility of government to only collect what is needed in support of
government programs rather than over-collect through taxation and then use that to grow government while our elderly, our most vulnerable, every citizen is forced to
tighten their budgetary belt and make tough decisions on how they are going to
absorb the expense of an additional $6,865 a year to live in Maine.
Federal and state Democrat policies designed to make oil and gas too expensive in
order to force movement towards more expensive alternative energy sources
without a viable policy plan in place is needlessly reckless and having real
financial impact on the lives and livelihoods of Mainers.
It is also the responsibility of elected officials to support policies that will address
negative impacts that decisions made in Augusta have had on our citizens.
Recent reports have quantified the academic impact of school closures here in
Maine. The report shows that Maine 8th and 4th grade students lost ground in both Math and reading categories. For the first time, Maine students are below the
national average. It is imperative that elected officials across the state recognize
the learning loss our students have experienced and support programs and policies
to assist our educators and students to make up lost ground and have academic
Our economy and learning loss are two issues that should be the focus of political
conversations right now, but legislative democrats don’t want to have those hard
discussions. They want to shift the focus and avoid addressing the issues that are
facing our citizens every part of their day, whether it be the cost to operate their
vehicle, turn on their lights, heat their home, fill their refrigerators, clothe their
families for cold weather, feed their pets, financially, physically, emotionally
support their schools and students. The list goes on and on of the multitude of
decisions and actions our citizens make and take as a part of their normal everyday
routine and the decisions we make as elected officials impact every single one of
their decisions and actions. So, I will say again, it is the responsibility of elected
officials to not make it harder for our citizens to live their lives in our great state.
With forecasts claiming the recession will hit within the year, it is vitally important
now, more than ever, that the people of Maine are represented by individuals in
Augusta who understand the need for fiscal responsibility. Individuals who are
willing to have the hard discussions and understand their first priority is to ensure
the economic viability of our state but also ensure that all Mainers, from our
elderly to those first striking out on their own, can afford to live their daily lives by
lowering costs, allowing workers to keep more of what they earn, and letting
citizens choose how they spend their hard-earned dollars all while making sure
policies are in place to support our citizens who need a helping hand.
Mainers can be sure that their Republican Representatives will continue to be
steadfast in their willingness to have the tough discussions and propose fiscal
policies that are sound and would lead to government stability in a time of crisis.
If you haven’t done so before, I encourage listeners to look at policy proposals
from Legislative Republicans and you will see we stand for government operating
within its means not unnecessarily growing government, less intrusion into your
lives, supporting our small businesses and our workforce, and encouraging citizens
to stay in Maine and for others to move here.
These aren’t new positions for us or talking points that just show up at election
time, these are policies we continue to fight for and support in Augusta because we
believe we work for the people of Maine, not the other way around.
This has been House Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham with the Weekly
Republican Radio Address. Thank you for supporting our efforts, listening,
subscribing, sharing, and following us on Facebook and Instagram.
Please remember to Vote on November 8th. Your voice can make a difference.