Weekly Radio Address: Senator Jackson says, "Democrats led on standing up for good policy and doing the right thing by keeping our promise to our towns."
Sometimes what happens in Augusta, at the State House, seems far removed from what goes on in our communities. But this week, after about a month into the 2014 legislative session, the Maine Legislature moved forward with two major accomplishments—despite Governor LePage’s objections. We kept the state’s promise to fund Maine’s towns and cities; and, we overrode Governor LePage’s veto, in order to feed kids who are hungry.
Good Morning. This is State Senator Troy Jackson of Allagash.
As the Senate Majority Leader, I am proud that Democrats led on both of these critically important issues. I am, however, equally proud that many Republicans joined us in standing up for good policy and doing the right thing.
To many of us, ensuring that a kid who is hungry and comes from a poor family gets at least one meal a day during the summer is a no brainer. Especially when the cost of the food is paid for by the federal Department of Agriculture.
While some were trying to decide who to blame for hungry kids, and do nothing; others, including a third of the Senate Republicans and all of the Democrats stood up to this nonsense—and overrode the veto.
As my colleague Senator Lachowicz from Waterville said, “At a time when more families are struggling to make ends meet and more children are hungry, it is irresponsible and unconscionable of us not to do everything we can to make sure children in our communities get fed.”
Feeding hungry kids was not the only area where Governor LePage tried to stand in the way of getting things done for the people in our state.
For weeks, lawmakers have been working together to craft a plan to restore revenue sharing—which are the dollars promised by the state to Maine’s towns and cities to ensure towns can continue providing essential services and keep property taxes down.
Governor LePage has waged a crusade against keeping this promise—starting last year when his budget proposal completely eliminated the program. Lawmakers stood up to that and partially restored funding.
But Governor LePage’s attempts to keep raiding dollars from our towns and cities didn’t stop there. In December, Governor LePage doubled down on his threat to eliminate revenue sharing. He even went so far as to call the very dollars used to keep our police and fire departments operating, “welfare.”
And then, just a few days ago, Governor LePage issued a brand new threat: If lawmakers restored revenue sharing, he would hold back bond investments. This is not the first time he has threatened to hold Maine’s jobs hostage. Remember, he did so for the last three years.
What was peculiar this time, was that a mere 48 hours earlier, Governor LePage touted bonds as part of his economic development plan in his State of the State address.Regardless of the threats, a resounding number of lawmakers—Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—stood up to these outbursts and did what was right for our towns across the state.
Even though Governor LePage has said that I can’t count, I can count to $40 million. And based on my math, the Legislature just restored $40 million to our towns. We kept our promise and we did the responsible thing for Maine’s property taxpayers.
Our work is not done—and thankfully we have another few months of session to work.
Before us will be issues like, how can we make college more affordable to Maine families? What kind of investments do Maine small businesses need and want? And what more can we do to keep energy costs down and renewable energy sources more abundant?
But perhaps the most fundamental issue before us will be, once again, standing up to Governor LePage’s political rhetoric and faulty math. We must do everything we can to expand health care for 70,000 Mainers who still do not have coverage. We have a plan—and the costs are picked up by the feds.
The time is now. The people of Maine know it—and many Republicans know that just like with the issues of child hunger and keeping our funding promise to Maine’s towns, expanding health care is the right thing to do.
The Legislature knows that actions speak louder than words. That’s why we have been keeping our promise to Maine people and why we will continue to do so.
Thank you for listening. This is Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. Have a warm and safe weekend.