Here we go again. The Appropriations Committee has finally announced their plan for the budget: raise taxes. Where have you heard that before?
Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.
Folks, I am a fiscal conservative. I believe that smaller government, lower taxes, limited regulation and free enterprise will put our state on the path to prosperity and success. These are not just words to me.
These are the principles that I live by. In my personal life and in my business career, I made tough choices and difficult decisions based on these principles and my integrity. I followed these principles as mayor of Waterville and now, as Governor, these same principles guide my decisions.
It is very hard to make the right decision. It is much easier to go with the flow or make decisions that don't disturb the status quo.
But I don't operate that way. Past governors avoided tough decisions because they were more concerned with the next election, rather than the next generation of Mainers. That's how we ended up with a state government that spends more money than it takes in.
Maine does not have a revenue problem; Maine has a spending problem. We spend more on government than we have money to pay for it. We are victimizing the taxpayer to pay for government greed, and we are ignoring our most needy, our disabled and our elderly.
Five months ago I submitted a balanced budget. Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves have blasted my proposal, but they have offered no solutions. Now time is running out. So they are going to do what they always do. They are going to raise taxes to avoid making tough decisions.
They don't want to eliminate fraud and abuse in welfare, and they don't want to right-size government. So we must find other areas to cut spending or reduce the size of government. That's why I proposed eliminating revenue sharing.
Revenue sharing accounts for only 2 to 4 percent of the budgets in Maine's largest municipalities. Many Mainers have trimmed their household budgets far more than that over the past few years.
But property taxes have doubled in the last couple of decades. Cities and towns are part of the problem. If they want to hold the line on property taxes, then they must make the tough decisions, too.
The growth of government must stop. Maine taxpayers are maxed out. We must look at the bigger picture. If we do not stop raising taxes and growing government now, we may never get the chance again. We cannot increase the burden we are leaving our children and grandchildren.
That's why I will veto any budget that raises your tax rates. I don't see it as politics. I see it as good public policy, and good public policy is good politics. I am not worried about the next election. I'm worried about the next generation.
I made the tough choices when I submitted a budget that is balanced. It was not a pleasant process, but it had to be done. We cannot keep taxing and spending, year after year. Mainers just can't afford it.
Folks, let me be clear. I do not want to shut down government. A shut-down is an act of failure. It is a failure to do the right thing for hard-working Maine families. But it is not up to me. It is up to Senate President Alfond and Speaker of the House Eves.
I proposed a budget based on the principles that I believe in. It is a budget that allows the state to live within its means. It is a budget that puts Maine people before politics.