It’s a Wrap

In what sounded more like a whimper than a bang, the Legislature finally adjourned on July 16–one month past statutory adjournment.

Because of the record-breaking number of  vetoes that I wrote about in my previous column, the Legislature was forced to add to the lengthy process of completing our work by also taking up each vetoed bill. And, in most cases, we overrode the votes with the necessary two-thirds (bipartisan) majority. The more than 200 vetoes (including all of the line-item vetoes) were vetoed for one reason–because the governor decided he would govern by obstruction. With each veto, he disregarded the public hearings, work sessions, debate and bipartisan votes in both the House and the Senate. Unfortunately, the veto process wasted time and and taxpayer money–and made for a challenging, frustrating, and frankly unnecessary end to months of hard work and compromise. It is estimated that for every day the Legislature had to meet to take up his vetoes, it cost the state about $20,000.

The next order of business in the waning days of session was the governor’s abuse of power in bullying and blackmailing the Good Will Hinckley School over the hiring–and subsequent firing–of House Speaker Mark Eves. In case you missed it, Governor LePage–by his own admission–threatened to withhold funding for the school should they continue their hiring of Speaker Eves as the school’s next president.

The school has been helping at-risk children by providing a place to live and learn since the 1860s. A few years ago, a charter school was added to the other offerings that the school provides, and the state pays a part of the funding for the charter school. Mark Eves’ training as a counselor, and his experience in managing the Legislature as a leader for the past eight years make him uniquely qualified for this position. Since my wife worked there years ago and I had familiarity with the school, Speaker Eves seems to be a perfect fit since the departure of Glen Cummings. Unfortunately,  the Governor doesn’t like Mark Eves–a political rival–and so he, in an unprecedented overreach of power, told the school that if they hired him, the school would no longer get nearly half a million dollars in state funding.

So….not exactly business as usual in Augusta. However, if you look beyond the headlines, we did some great work in the Senate. And for that, I thank the dozens of people I spoke to during my campaign. By following your advice, “work together for the people of Maine,” and that’s what we did. We came together on the budget despite the nattering nabobs of negativity with the House Republicans who tried to derail the process. We saved working families some money on property taxes by continuing revenue sharing to our towns and cities; we provided targeted income tax cuts for working and middle-income Mainers–with a fully paid for tax cut of $135 million going to 579,000 Maine families; and we invested in K through 12 public education, higher education, and worker training efforts. We also fixed numerous other issues that were presented to us like meaningful welfare reform.

In just about six months, I had over 1,800 different contacts from my constituents–the people in our community. In each case, I responded to all but a few that required more in-depth research that I am pulling together now and will respond soon. I am so grateful for all the suggestions and information that helped me and my colleagues understand the issues from every perspective.

There is more work to do, and we will jump back in after our break. It feels so good to be back in our community attending parades, concerts, town celebrations and seeing your smiling faces. I will be attending as many events as possible to keep getting  your input. Please find me and tell me what you are thinking about.

Have a wonderful summer!

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