Senator Trey Stewart presents this week’s Senate Republican radio address, 7/2/21
Hello, I am Senator Trey Stewart of Aroostook County.
Round two of the latest state budget—the “supplemental” budget—proved what the first round did not have a chance to prove; that Republicans deserve a meaningful seat at the negotiating table; and when we have one, Maine people are better off.
With nearly an additional one billion dollars available to spend, Republicans have insisted that tax relief be extended to everyone who worked through the pandemic instead of just those who received unemployment over the last year, which was the Democrats’ proposal. The budget includes a one-time payment of $300 to more than 500,000 Maine workers, which solely exists from Republican persistence.
In another Republican victory, we channeled the voices of Maine people who are desperate for property tax relief, and we succeeded. The Homestead Exemption is now on a path to increase by 3% each year until it reaches 100% of the allowable rate. At the same time, revenue sharing to cities and towns will rise to 5% while state aid to local schools will reach 55%. All of these should be reflected in lower property tax bills in the coming year, and we challenge our municipal leaders to pass those savings on to local taxpayers.
The Governor used just 2% of the federal funding we received to support Maine’s nursing homes, while they struggled to care for their residents and accounted for over 50% of the COVID deaths in Maine. This is a travesty that we, as Republicans, vowed to correct if given the opportunity–and we succeeded. Roughly 150 million dollars in additional funding will be provided to nursing homes and for direct care workers, which would not have happened without our push for the targeted relief for these critical facilities. Still, this disparity in COVID deaths in nursing homes needs to be investigated by state government and we will continue this effort.
On multiple occasions, we have bailed the Democrat Governor out from policies that were pushed from her extreme liberal allies in the Legislature. We fought the decriminalization of both prostitution and possession of illegal drugs such as heroin and fentanyl. We also supported wholeheartedly the men and women of law enforcement, defeating an attempt by the extreme left to remove their “qualified immunity” and efforts to defund the police.
Legislative Democrats continued to push for half-baked measures that would raise the cost of health insurance and prescription drugs on Maine people at a time when they need help the most. They also pushed to provide free health care to illegal immigrants and noncitizens even though we all know its Maine citizens who should be prioritized by our state’s government.
Make no mistake, the Second Amendment was and remains under assault in Augusta by the majority party. In a true victory for Maine values and traditions, Republicans voted unanimously and we were able to defeat four bills designed to infringe on our right to keep and bear arms. I am, however, happy to report that my bill, which eliminated the registration fees on firearm suppressors in Maine, was passed and signed into law in a rare victory for Second Amendment supporters this session.
Three months ago, Legislative Republicans clearly laid out our priorities for the session and for the budget. Since then, we have remained committed to those priorities and have succeeded in returning taxpayer funds to Maine people, limiting governmental intrusion in our lives, and preserving your liberties–against the objections of our liberal colleagues.
We remain committed to Maine people and their freedoms; and in that spirit, wish you all a safe, healthy and patriotic Independence Day Weekend.
Again, I am Sen. Trey Stewart. Thank you for listening.