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Public Statements

Issue Position: Spending

Issue Position

By:
Location: Unknown

1. Audit Every Program, Department, and Agency.
2. Eliminate Wasteful Spending and Unnecessary Programs.
3. Carefully Reduce Spending to National Averages.
4. End Mismanagement of State Programs.

The first step in creating a positive business climate and generating jobs is to put our fiscal house in order. Big spending has not led to good results. Our next Governor must end excessive state government spending. By any objective measure, our government spends too much on programs and services compared with other states.[1] Taxes have been raised to uncommonly high levels to pay for this bloated spending. This hurts our struggling families by driving away businesses and jobs which our workers desperately need. The trend is no longer fiscally sustainable. Maine families simply can't afford it.

"Big spending has not led to good results. We must put our fiscal house in order."

Augusta's lack of fiscal discipline creates a high-tax environment which increases the cost of doing business in Maine. Also, excessive spending is transforming our state into a magnet for those seeking unfair access to taxpayer-funded services. This growing dependency reflects poorly on our heritage as an independent, hard-working people. It's not fair to those paying the bills, and it hurts the recipients in the long run.

State spending on education is the largest outlay in the proposed 2010-11 biannual budget, consuming 47% of all taxpayer dollars.[2] From 1979-2006 the number of K-12 students decreased by 16%. During the same period the number of K-12 teachers increased by 32%, and administrators and staff by 52%. [3] Maine has the 7th highest cost per K-12 student in the nation.[4] Although our taxpayers spend plenty on K-12 education, the results are disappointing. For example, Maine's high school graduation rate is average, and the college matriculation rate is below average. In the fall of 2007, nearly 51% of first-year Community College Sysytem students enrolled in remedial courses because they were not "college ready." [5]

"The trend is no longer fiscally sustainable. Maine families simply can't afford it."

Taxpayer-funded health care is the second largest expense category in the proposed state budget, accounting for 32% of all spending. MaineCare is our state Medicaid program originally designed as a healthcare safety net for the poor and disabled. During the past 20 years, however, our elected officials have eased the eligibility requirements such that, today, the program enrolls 275,000 of our citizens, or 22% of the population. This is the highest enrollment rate in the country. [6] Our politicians have also expanded MaineCare benefits to include services beyond traditional health care, such as meals, transportation, and housing.

Taxpayer spending on education and health care services account for nearly 80% of our state budget. Making these systems solvent requires more than just tightening budgets and eliminating waste. Our next Governor must institute better management in order to deliver these and other needed services while saving taxpayer dollars.

"Fiscal discipline by our state government will allow taxes to be reduced."

Our next Governor must lead the effort to put our fiscal house in order. Every state program, department, and agency must be audited to identify waste and unnecessary programs. Spending on programs and services must be thoughtfully reduced to levels comparable with other states. Fiscal discipline by our state government will allow taxes to be reduced. This, in turn, will put more money into the pockets of our struggling citizens. It will also provide an incentive for entrepreneurs to create businesses and jobs in Maine. Our state programs must be better managed to save money while providing the best services possible.

Footnotes
[1] United States Bureau of Economic Analysis
[2] Maine Governor's Office
[3] Maine Development Foundation
[4] National Education Association
[5] Maine Community College System.
[6] Kaiser Family Foundation; United States Census Bureau


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