Weekly Radio Address: Senator Hill says, "Some spend their time pointing out all that is wrong and offer no solutions, but Democrats are working across the aisle to see that the state keeps its promise with Maine towns"
One of the most important tasks for any legislature is to work with the governor to put together a budget for our state. Budgets are built upon compromise and negotiation. And while each political party may have variations in their funding priorities, there’s often bipartisan agreement when it comes to meeting our financial obligations, especially when it comes to the towns and communities across our state.
Good Morning. This is State Senator Dawn Hill of York. I am the Senate Chair of the state’s budget writing committee.
More than forty years ago, state government made a promise to each town and city in Maine: give five percent of sales and income taxes collected from towns, by the state, back to the municipalities. This is called revenue sharing. The goal of this promise was to provide property tax relief to homeowners and commercial property owners.
The state has kept its promise— until recently.
Last year, Governor LePage broke this promise by proposing the complete elimination of revenue sharing. During the public hearing, we heard days of testimony from Mayors, City Managers, and Selectboards—each narrating the devastating impact this would have on communities in every corner of our state.
The Legislature responded.
Democrats led the way to restore revenue sharing. And while we restored a good portion of it, we were thwarted by some Tea Party Republicans, and were unable to fully fund revenue sharing.
Last month, Governor LePage doubled down on his pursuit to completely eliminate revenue sharing. He even went so far as to call it “welfare.” Ask any town manager if they agree with Governor LePage’s label.
I can tell you that town officials from our biggest cities to our smallest towns have responded in outrage.
Belfast. Standish. Brewer. Eddington. Portland. And dozens more.
Towns are telling us their budgets are as tight as can be. They depend on the state’s revenue sharing, and cannot tolerate placing any more unnecessary pressure on local taxpayers.
If the state doesn’t keep its promise, no town will escape the choice between cutting bare-to-the bones services or raising property taxes. And, many will have to do both.
Last week, my co-chair and I proposed a measure that will honor the state’s promise to our local towns. Without this, towns will lose an average of sixty-two percent of revenue sharing toward their budgets.
So why does revenue sharing matter?
As you drive—or walk—around your town, look around.
Are your streets plowed, paved?
Do you have sidewalks?
Are there street lights directing traffic? What about trees lining your Main Street?
Are the restaurants in your town clean and up to code? And let’s not forget about the police and firefighters who keep us safe. And our schools, that teach our kids.
Revenue sharing matters.
While some in Augusta spend their time pointing out all that is wrong with our state—and offer no solutions, Democrats are working across the aisle to see that we uphold our share of the bargain for our towns. And because of that, I hope our Republican colleagues will join us in fulfilling the state’s commitment.
This is State Senator Dawn Hill. Thank you for listening. Have a good weekend. And, let’s remember to honor Dr. Martin Luther King on Monday.