We are at work, and we’re working for you

Senator Jeff Timberlake delivers this week’s Republican radio address

By Sen. Jeffrey Timberlake

Sen. Jeff Timberlake

AUGUSTA – As we begin the Second Regular Session, we’re already reminded why legislators need to put Maine’s people first. From housing and nursing home issues to rampant inflation, rising energy costs, quality education and what to do with a surplus, the interests of everyday Mainers have to take priority.

Hello, I am Senator Jeff Timberlake of Androscoggin County and the Senate Republican Leader, and it’s my pleasure to join you for this week’s Republican radio address.

What government does in Augusta has enormous influence over our everyday lives. From the taxes we pay to the laws under which we live, legislators have a unique, powerful role in our society and, with that power, a duty to Maine’s people. It’s for that reason that we have to be mindful of government’s burdens on everyday Mainers.

And one of those burdens is taxes.

According to an analysis by Wallethub, Maine’s overall tax burden is fourth highest in the nation and sales taxes – the most regressive of Maine’s three major revenue streams – are becoming a higher burden at a much faster rate. Whether its meals, clothing, hockey skates or even your Netflix subscription, the state earns money every time you pay and with today’s 7 percent hyper-inflation, you’re being overcharged – the more you pay, the more the state earns.

This is important because when you’re overcharged at a store, you can usually complain and get a refund or go somewhere else. When it comes to the state, however, you can’t just take your business elsewhere – we’re it.

So as we consider the Governor’s $822 million supplemental budget, we’ll have a chance to determine how much you are being overcharged and give you a refund. Your money is yours, after all, and we want you to keep it.

We also need to look at ongoing issues with our long-term care facilities. The Legislature has already allocated nearly $180 million to nursing homes and the direct care workers who care for our state’s elderly and most vulnerable. Now, the Mills administration is asking for nearly $38 million more and we’re hearing that nursing homes are still under duress. We should find out why and work to solve this problem.

We’ll also be looking at affordable housing in Maine, and I don’t just mean housing prices. Affordable housing also means your ability to stay in your home, including your rent or mortgage, property taxes, your electric, water and sewer bills, and anything else that adds a monthly expense. But housing prices, transportation and access to childcare are factors, and we should look at that too.

We also need to help our business community and address Maine’s worker shortages. There are more questions as to why the problem exists than answers, but we as a Legislature must find those answers. Is it due to unemployment windfalls? Is it MaineCare’s expansion? Is it workers lost to other states? Are we training for the right jobs and trades? Do our taxes limit growth?

These are the questions that need answers to really solve the crisis.

In closing, I want to remind everyone that Monday is Martin Luther King Day. Dr. King was a champion not only for Civil Rights in America, but also for equality, justice and giving a voice to all. We should remember these virtues as we work for you.

Again, I’m Senator Jeff Timberlake of Androscoggin County. Have a great weekend.

Sen. Timberlake is the Senate Republican Leader, a member of the Legislative Council and the ranking Republican member of the Government Oversight Committee.

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