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Enough is Enough: College material, hospital debt and welfare expansion

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Enough is enough. The following is a list of our local lawmakers that are holding up meaningful welfare reform. Please call them and let them know your opinion on the below.

Senator John Cleveland, 782-3353 SenJohn.Cleveland@legislature.maine.gov

Senator Margaret Craven, 783-1897 SenMargaret.Craven@legislature.maine.gov

Representative Nathan Libby, 399-7993 RepNathan.Libby@legislature.maine.gov

Representative Michel Lajoie, 783-1927, RepMichel.Lajoie@legislature.maine.gov

Representative Michael Carey, 344-3017, RepMichael.Carey@legislature.maine.gov

Representative Brian Bolduc, 576-4907, bolduc74@yahoo.com

Representative Margaret Rotundo, 784-3259, mrotundo@bates.edu.

Representative Wayne Werts, 783-6931, rw556@aol.com.

Why is there so much pressure on our local students to attend and graduate from college? Why are they continually left with the assumption that without a piece of parchment from a “college” or “university” they will live life as a failure?
Many people living in Lewiston-Auburn own homes, cars, seasonal camps, retirement property to our south and have good jobs.  They live happily and comfortably.  But, unlike their peers, who have attended college, they have no degree—nor the enormous debt that goes with it.
Over the years the Lewiston School Committee has realized many students are not college material. Many who falter academically excel in the trades such as automotive, woodworking, sheet metal and, in case you’ve been away from the area for a few years, an extremely renowned culinary arts program that sends more of its students to the world renowned New York Institute of Culinary Arts than any school in the country.

Air Force and Army ROTC programs, along with the Law Enforcement Cadet Program, offer a career foundation to those who desire work away from the confines of an office.
With much fanfare iPads are now replacing computers currently used in our school system. What is hailed as an innovation and helpful to some students could prove to be a job killer to a majority of others. The reason? Students’ keyboarding skills will diminish, leaving them without the skills needed to qualify for nearly half of the jobs currently available in our community.
This lack of foresight would close the door to graduates seeking clerical or secretarial positions. Or it could force them to reach into their own pockets and pay to develop skills formerly offered as part of our public education system.

Lewiston-Auburn redevelopment staffs have worked hard to bring new jobs to our area. TD Bank and Argo have and will bring hundreds of new jobs needed to boost our local economy.  It’s time to return to the realization that not all our children are college material. Let’s continue teaching the basic skills needed to insure that every student possess the skills that will move our community forward.

The last thing we don’t want to see in the windows of future employers is a sign stating, “Lewiston and EL graduates need not apply.”
“We’ll have to pass it to find out what’s in it.”  Thus spoke former Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi when asked about Obamacare.  Well, they did, and now we’re finding out that this is not quite what was promised. Now the very liberal Congressional Democrats who voted for Obamacare are now becoming infuriated by many of its regulations.

But that’s what happens when you’re not held accountable by the voting public. I mean, why waste time reading the bill? They have campaign cash to raise.
Now let’s fast forward to last week in Augusta.
“I am willing to take a chance.”  Thus stated Senator John Patrick D-Rumford in casting an affirmative vote in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee to link paying the hospitals to the expansion of Medicaid. What chance? The chance that the current administration in Washington, D.C. is telling the truth.

If they’re not able to back up their claims, taxpayers—that’s Maine taxpayers—will be on the hook for providing expanded coverage to the thousands added to the current rolls.  Which side of error do you wish to side on?
A Sun Journal editorial on Saturday May 18, 2013 seems to be pandering to this plan. It linked Governor Paul LePage to other evil Tea Party governors who oppose the plan. Apparently the Sun Journal has not received the new talking points: Tea Party, patriotic and good guys; the Executive Branch in Washington D.C., bad guys.
Being the Mayor of Lewiston I am incensed that paying the State debt owed to our hospitals will not stand alone as a separate issue. My job is to shout when the livelihood of residents and the city’s economy is threatened. Well, I’m shouting!
In Lewiston we have experienced the good intentions of our Federal government. Promises made have turned certain areas of our city (and other cities throughout the country) into decaying shells of once-vibrant neighborhoods. We are forced to support people who no longer have (assuming that they once had) the ability or the will to support themselves. Taxes go up, and our dependents multiply.

Two things must happen. First, Governor LePage cannot waiver and must veto the bill. Second, it’s time for you to join the fight. Start calling your State Representatives and let them know how you feel.

We have spent two legislative sessions attempting to pass legislation that would prohibit those coming off five years of TANF being added to Lewiston’s welfare rolls. We have asked that 200-plus jobs and stabilization of our local hospitals that can only happen by paying off the debt owed to them for the last several years.

Finally, the Chief Executive of our State, Governor Paul LePage was denied on Sunday the opportunity to testify in front of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. The subject was the financial distress at the Department of Health and Human Services.

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3 Responses to “Enough is Enough: College material, hospital debt and welfare expansion”

  • Michael Hobbs:

    Just because you don’t think or in this case kids don’t believe that they have to go to college, the fact remains that more and more jobs require some type of post-secondary education. As for trades yes those are valuable to our community they are limit job wise. How many mechanics, welders, etc… can Lewiston/Auburn sustain? Not to mention to have a successful economy you need to have an array of industries, but again a lot of industries Lewiston/Auburn could use high tech. industries and others require some type of post-secondary education. I think it is time that you come to the realization that for this community to progress it is going to need to get an education. The city needs to work on increasing the high school graduation rate and needs to work with colleges such as USM L/A Campus on expanding what they offer and expanding their campuses.

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