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Enough is Enough: Taxpayers, children will suffer without welfare reform

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Well, it’s official! The silver-spoon trust-funder, Senate President Justin Alfond, and his co-conspirator, Speaker of the House Mark Eves, have again won a battle in their war against Maine’s middle class. They successfully killed legislation that would have tightened up the rules of several state welfare programs in order to reduce fraud.

A collective sigh of relief by the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Equal Justice and a host of other advocacy groups was heard reverberating throughout the halls of the State House. Their interests once again had trumped those of the state’s middle-class taxpayers. Yes, happiness reigned, thanks to the leadership of the progressive Democrats and their Lewiston-Auburn allies, our local Democratic legislative delegation (a.k.a. The Portland Puppets).

The aforementioned groups will now be allowed, for at least another year, unfettered access to picking the pockets of Maine’s middle class.

I must note at this time that three of L-A’s Democratic legislators may have broken rank and voted with Republicans to institute Governor LePage’s tightening of the General Assistance laws. Next week, if true, I will let you know their identities.

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Enough is Enough: Lewiston faces budget pressure; politicians deny welfare problems

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

It is time for a no-holds-barred venting on welfare reform. It is time for an accounting from our Lewiston state legislative delegation as to what they have done to help alleviate our current welfare crisis.

Over the next eight weeks, seven Lewiston residents elected to our city council will debate, ponder and come up with a city budget that places minimum fiscal distress on local property taxpayers while providing services needed to make sure we function and grow as a community. This is Lewiston, not Lourdes—there will be no forthcoming miracles. Property taxes will increase. The only question is: How much?

Lewiston has one of the lowest property value rates in the state. This is why a house is Southern Maine is valued three times or more than a similar one in Lewiston. This undervalue is reflected in our mil rate. At the end of the day, that similar house in Southern Maine is paying about the same or slightly more in taxes than you do in your undervalued home.

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Enough is Enough: Mother Nature wreaks havoc on education system

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

School daze: A condition that will soon be coming to a school near you. No school will be immune. It will spread throughout the entire Maine school system faster than students being dismissed for the day.

There is no known cure for it. In some cases it can be limited, although this year it is on track to reach epic proportions. This year’s students will be infected by the most powerful strain of this scourge: Mother Nature.

Over the past school year, Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on the steady, consistently measured flow of educational knowledge imparted on our students by their teachers. This educational flow is only successful if it is allowed to continue with few interruptions. However, this academic year Mother Nature has been exceptionally cruel to our educational system. There is still a chance Mother Nature may rain down another catastrophe upon us. As I write, a major Nor’easter is forming with the potential of hitting Maine hard.

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Enough is Enough: MaineCare ride service bashed by media bashing, politics

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

How many of you reading this column have ever heard of CTS? If I told you the initials stood for Coordinated Transportation Solutions, would that ring a bell? Probably not.

Yet at the beginning of January of this year, this company dominated the news in a very negative fashion. This was the company contracted by Maine’s Office of MaineCare Services to provide rides to those on MaineCare (Medicaid) needing transportation to appointments.

CTS was contracted by the State of Maine after the federal government forced the state into a brokering system after it concluded that contracting only one company, in this case Community Concepts, presented a conflict of interest. Enter CTS, who brokered contracts with several companies, including Community Concepts, to provide the transportation needs of individuals on MaineCare.

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Op-ed: Culture Change in Augusta Leads to Big Drop in Workers’ Comp Rates

By Senator Garrett Mason

Workers’ compensation has long been considered one of the biggest financial drains on Maine businesses that have had to endure the high costs and bureaucratic red tape of an outdated system that no longer served the best interests of employers and workers.

But there is finally encouraging news for workers’ comp, and it would not have happened without a series of changes that began when Maine voters opted for Republican leadership in the Governor’s Office and Legislature in 2010.

The Maine Bureau of Insurance this month received a recommendation to decrease workers’ compensation rates by an average of 7.7 percent. This is expected to save Maine businesses more than $15 million. It’s the largest rate decrease since 1998. Maine is one of the few states in the nation that will see a rate reduction.

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Enough is Enough: Partnerships can create a new and vibrant Lewiston

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

“We must continue to clean up blighted buildings and neighborhoods, but we must also work with our landlords and partners to create decent housing for those who work hard but have limited incomes.”

That quote is from this year’s mayoral inauguration address. These were not words designed for a sound bite. They are words from the heart. We must transform our downtown neighborhoods into neighborhoods of choice.

When I arrived in Lewiston 37 years ago, the mills were still Lewiston’s major employers. Many of our downtown residents worked on one of the mills’ three shifts. At shift’s end, they returned to their homes located in multi-dwelling apartment buildings. These neighborhoods were well kept, and apartments were neat and clean. These were neighborhoods filled with proud people of character.

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Enough is Enough: City councilors cannot punt away budget problems

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Our city budget season is upon us. Seven women and men, elected from throughout Lewiston, will spend long days and sleepless nights scrutinizing the budgets of our various city departments. They will labor over what capital expenditures can be put off and what, if any, services can be cut or curtailed.

They have become the stewards of Lewiston’s fiscal health. All at some point will question what possessed them to run for the council and take on this thankless task.

Each year balancing the city’s needs against what property taxpayers can afford becomes harder. The Washington goose that at one time was very fertile has now gone sterile. Reality in Augusta is defined by vocal special interest groups who at the start of the legislative season take up residence inside the walls of the State House. Here they repeatedly present legislators with dubious facts which go unchallenged by the majority of the clueless we have representing us. This results in the passage of legislation which in the long run will shaft the majority of our taxpaying population.

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Enough is Enough: Americans prosper from hard work, not progressive theories

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

I become incensed when I hear the continual chant of our progressive state legislators, blaming every evil that befalls the country and the world on rich people.

Unless you were lucky enough to be born into a rich family, like Maine’s Senate President Justin Alfond or the Kennedys of “Camelot,” chances are your wealth was obtained through long hours, personal drive, creativity and the knowledge of how to obtain financial stability through labor, not government handouts.

This self-reliance makes you an enemy of those charged with creating a “Nanny State.”

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Enough is Enough: Revenue sharing: cut state programs or punish businesses?

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

I write this week’s column pleading to the governor and the Democratic and Republican Legislative leaderships to find common ground and restore revenue sharing to Maine cities and towns.

For the benefit of our readers, the revenues distributed to the cities and towns are derived from a formula in which a portion of the state’s sales tax receipts are distributed to the cities and towns. Cities and towns then use this money to keep property taxes down.

This is not some form of municipal welfare. Sales tax revenues are the result of cities and towns investing local taxes in infrastructure, municipal services and providing an attractive place to live and do business. The more businesses and people we attract to our area, the greater the sales tax receipts.

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Enough is Enough: Changing DHHS rule would provide fiscal relief

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Last Friday, a hearing was held at the Department of Health and Human Services, a meeting whose outcome will have a fiscal and economic impact on City of Lewiston taxpayers.

At issue is making several changes in the rules governing DHHS in order to bring them into compliance with federal and state programs.

Simply put, Maine cities and towns will no longer be forced by DHHS rules to help those who do not qualify for federal or state assistance. This change would allow Lewiston to save a considerable amount of money.

These savings could allow us to temporarily aid long-time Lewiston residents that might need temporary help to get over the bump in the road and back on their feet.

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