STATE HOUSE – Senate and House Republican Leaders delivered the Republican response to the State of the Budget address delivered by Governor Janet Mills during the Legislature’s Joint Convention tonight in the House of Representatives at the Maine State House.
The leaders, Senate Republican Leader Harold “Trey” Stewart, R-Aroostook, and House Republican Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, emphasized that the budget is a billion dollars too high and exceeds a statutory limit contained in state law designed to prevent state government from spending beyond its means.
Both Leaders pledged to work with the Governor and Democrats to address pressing needs, including roads, bridges, schools, nursing homes and Maine’s social safety net. Republican leaders also called for tax cuts as a solution to avoid violating Maine law, which caps general fund appropriations once certain benchmarks have been reached including the state’s 55% share of education funding.
TRANSCRIPT OF RESPONSE BY REPUBLICAN LEADERS:
[Sen. Trey Stewart, R-Aroostook] Good evening, I am Senate Republican Leader Trey Stewart of Aroostook County.
[Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor] And I am House Republican Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham of Winter Harbor. It’s our pleasure to join you this Valentine’s Day for the Republican Response to Governor Mills’ State of the Budget Address.
[BBF] I’m a lobsterman from Winter Harbor, which is about 2 and half hours east of Augusta. So when I make the trip, I do so hoping that we are going to get something done working together to do great things for the people of Maine.
Here’s what worries me: There are too many people down here who think that doing great things means spending more money – a lot MORE money. Even if it means breaking a promise made to the people of Maine a few years back that we won’t spend beyond our means.
In fact, Democrats and Republicans agreed that when more money arrives in Augusta than we planned on, we would cut taxes. Period.
That is missing from this budget and we have returned to the bad old days where if you send it, the politicians will spend it. That’s not right.
[TS] I agree, Representative Faulkingham. The Governor’s budget is another episode of spending gone wild. In fact, this spending bill is what’s wrong with government. It puts the government first and the taxpayers last.
Think about this: While the folks where I’m from in Aroostook County struggle to pay their electric bill, cut costs at the grocery store and wonder how they will pay their property taxes or the IRS, the Governor and her minions dream of new ways to spend more of your money.
The goal for this budget should be clear – Maine must be a place where Maine people can afford to live, work, raise a family and retire. And this budget moves us in the wrong direction for that dream.
[BBF] Let me follow up on something Senator Stewart just said.
- The burden on Maine families is real.
- The 165% increase in electricity costs is real.
- 6 dollars for a dozen of eggs is real.
- Inflation is real.
But what’s unreal to me is that this budget ignores that reality.
Are there things in this budget that are important and worthy? Of course there are and we will 100 percent support things like nursing home funding, money for the disabled, schools, roads, bridges and a safety net for Mainers in need.
But this budget goes far beyond our ability to pay for it and we are headed down a dangerous road of dependency that will burden our children and grandchildren with debt and disastrous choices when we face the next economic downturn.
[TS] Okay, I think we talked enough about the doom and gloom. You sent us here to make things better, not talk about how bad things are. Here’s the good news – things can get better and here’s how:
First, limit spending to the limits already set in the law. That means this budget is about a billion dollars too high;
Second, return all the extra money to the taxpayers through tax cuts;
Third, build a budget that protects the safety net – and eliminates the hammock. There are far too many people in this state who should be going to work and paying taxes, but they don’t – they sit at home. That needs to stop;
And finally, make Maine a place where you can live, work, raise a family and retire.
[BBF] There is a lot of work to be done to implement the 4-point plan Senator Stewart just laid out. But we can do it.
And I’ll promise you this: We will work with the Governor. We will work with the Democrats; and we will work with each other to do whatever we can to pass a budget that puts Mainers first.[TS] Thank you for tuning in to the Republican Response. Now, lets get this done! May God bless you, your family, our great State of Maine and our country. We hope you have a great evening.