By Laurent F. Gilbert
The NRA’s war against America. That’s right, the new National Rifle Association is not the old NRA that published an outstanding magazine called “Field and Stream.” It enjoyed the support of hunters and sports enthusiasts all over the country.
As time wore on, the leadership got into bed with the gun-making industry and through its minions went to war on any and all gun legislation under the guise of protecting the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Even strict constructionist and right-leaning Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has said that the right to bear arms isn’t absolute and could be changed in the future. As far as I’m concerned, the future is now.
When will we, as law-abiding citizens, demand that our legislators develop enough intestinal fortitude and political will to enact legislation to hopefully reduce the needless deaths that occur daily in our country? That’s right, 34 people are killed every day with the use of guns. That’s well over 12,000 people killed with the use of guns every year. Add to that another 18,000 suicides for a total of 30,000 deaths. That comes close to the entire population of Lewiston wiped out in one year. The NRA fights everything and anything that could reduce these needless deaths. To me, that is their war on America!
By Governor Paul R. LePage
Many Mainers know what it is like to juggle their bills until payday arrives. Imagine waiting four years.
That’s the reality for Maine’s 39 community hospitals. It is difficult to believe, but hospitals in dozens of Maine communities have not received payment from the State for Medicaid services they provided dating back to 2009.
Central Maine Medical Center is owed $50.2 million; St. Mary’s Medical Center, $28.9 million; Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, $15.4 million; Stephens Memorial in Norway, $6 million; and Bridgton and Rumford hospitals, $4.2 million apiece.
That’s more than $100 million in outstanding debt owed to the hospitals in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford Counties and a substantial portion of the total $484 million due statewide.
Because the State of Maine is addressing its hospital debt, Governor Paul R. LePage said he will support $205 million in bonds, including issuing all those authorized by Maine voters.
Governor LePage said the state’s hospitals will be paid the $484 million they are owed. By issuing $205 million in bonds, that is a total direct investment of nearly $700 million into Maine’s economy in 2013.
The state owes Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston $50.2 million, and it owes $28.8 million to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Lewiston.
The Governor announced Tuesday he has submitted emergency legislation to the Revisor’s Office that will authorize the state to immediately issue a revenue bond on its future liquor sales when enacted. The state will retain operational control over liquor sales starting in the summer of 2014 when the current 10-year private contract expires.
While much focus has been placed on Governor LePage’s proposal to suspend revenue sharing payments to municipalities in order to balance the state’s budget, several important aspects of the proposal have gotten less attention.
Gov. LePage’s proposal prioritizes education, maintaining funding for Maine schools after they received a $63 million boost in the last biennial budget. The Baldacci Administration cut education funding by $100 million in its final three years.
The budget proposal also addresses the workforce skills gap by restructuring the apprenticeship program and increasing funding by over $1 million for Jobs for Maine’s Graduates. Furthermore, schools will receive an additional $15 million in incentives to improve efficiency and accountability.
By Gov. Paul LePage
This week, newly elected officials across our country and state started what is supposed to be the work of the people. Budget talk has dominated discussions for months, and the so called fiscal cliff is starting to hit home for many Mainers.
Maine’s average household income is about $48,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the federal payroll tax change will affect thousands of working families, leaving them with less money.
An average family will lose about $1,000 from their paycheck in 2013 because of the payroll tax change—a decrease that will likely make it difficult for Mainers to pay their own bills.
I am proud to share with Mainers that the tax cuts passed by the Maine Legislature in the last biennium will save a family of four with an income of $48,000 a little more than $300 annually.
By Bruce Poliquin
My two-year term as Maine State Treasurer ended Monday. I’ve been humbled and honored by the privilege to serve the State Legislature and the hard-working people of Maine. I thank you deeply for this rewarding opportunity.
The Maine Legislature elects our four Constitutional Officers, including the State Treasurer. The November elections returned the legislative majority back to the Democrat Party, where it had been for most of the past 40 years.
The incoming majority elected the current State Auditor and former Democrat State Senator Neria Douglass as our next State Treasurer. I congratulate Treasurer-elect Douglass and have been pleased to assist with her smooth transition.
Two years ago, our Great State faced a number of daunting fiscal challenges: $4.1 billion of pension benefits had been promised to 70,000 active and retired public school teachers and state employees that Augusta did not have funds to cover. State government owed roughly $500 million to Maine hospitals for Medicaid (MaineCare) services already provided to program enrollees. The increasing cost of our Medicaid program had been crowding out the State’s ability to fund other core services like road/bridge construction and repair.
By U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe
As I conclude my nearly 40 years in elective office, I want to convey how thankful and blessed I feel to have had the opportunity to serve as your Senator.
It has been difficult to envision saying farewell, just as it was impossible to imagine I would one day become a Senator as I was growing up in Maine. But such is the miracle of America that a young girl of a Greek immigrant and a first-generation American, who was orphaned at the age of nine could, in time, be elected to serve in the greatest deliberative body the world has ever known—and become the third-longest-serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.
I want to thank you, the people of Maine, for allowing me to be your voice, your vote and your champion for 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and for three terms in the United States Senate. One of the definitions of the word “trust” is “a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence.” And to have had your trust, as you have placed your faith and confidence in me, is an honor of indescribable magnitude. Indeed, serving our magnificent state over the past 34 years in the halls of Congress has been the greatest privilege of my life.
The Lewiston City Council voted unanimously last week to officially change the name of Pierce Street Park to “Mark W. Paradis Park,” in honor of the long-time Lewiston resident and public servant who died in 2011 while running for mayor.
The name change came about as a result of a recommendation by the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council (LYAC) who, in the course of working with the Downtown Neighborhood Action Committee (DNAC) to make improvements to the park, sponsored a contest for Lewiston school students to supply the park with a more attention-getting name. The winning entry was submitted by Nicole Morin, now a student at Lewiston Middle School.
On hand for the occasion was Paradis’ wife, Ronalla, and their son, Phillip. While extending her appreciation to Morin and the LYAC for honoring her husband’s legacy, Mrs. Paradis encouraged the youth of Lewiston to set an example by getting along peacefully and following her husband’s example of treating others respectfully. At the meeting, LYAC Chair Kon Maiwan also presented Nicole Morin with a congratulatory certificate and award.
U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) was honored Tuesday with the “National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal,” presented by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper.
The prestigious award, which is the highest intelligence honor a non-career Federal employee or private citizen may receive, was given to Senator Snowe in recognition of her many contributions to improving our nation’s Intelligence Community, particularly through her legislation establishing the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community and her efforts to improve diplomatic and embassy security as a member of the House of Representatives in the mid-1980s.
Senator Snowe has served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence since 2003, and she previously served on the Senate Armed Services (1997-2000), Senate Foreign Relations (1995-1996), and House Foreign Affairs (1981-1994) Committees.
By Sally C. Pipes
Pacific Research Institute
The next act in the Obamacare saga is about to begin—and it’s going to be tragic. Friday, December 14 marks the deadline for states to reveal their plans for constructing insurance exchanges in line with the healthcare law’s dictates.
Many (including Maine) are opting out—leaving the federal government to set up exchanges for them. Others simply aren’t ready to establish their own.
And so these central components of Obamacare will soon stand as the latest examples of the president’s failure to make health insurance more accessible or affordable.
Obamacare’s insurance exchanges were intended to be state-based marketplaces where individuals and small businesses could choose from an array of coverage options. In theory, this structure would encourage states to experiment and to tailor their offerings to the unique needs of their populations.
But in reality, the exchanges are burdened with so many rules that experimentation and competition have been stifled. Given the cost of setting up an exchange—and of complying with all the federal regulations—it’s no surprise that many states are refusing to participate.