The Legislature has been in session for five months, but politicians waited until the 11th hour to tackle some of state's biggest challenges. After fighting insignificant skirmishes for months, legislators suddenly found themselves in the most important battle of the war: whether to hold the line on taxes.
Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.
Politicians who try to reduce taxes always face resistance, but this year the opposition was fierce. Surrounded by outrage from municipal officials, school administrators, special interests and unions, the politicians did what they always do. They surrendered.
Unfortunately, one group didn't even stand a chance in this fight: Maine taxpayers. As lobbyists and legislators scurried back and forth under the dome, Maine taxpayers stood on the sidelines, hoping someone would summon up the courage to protect their interests. As usual, it didn't happen.
Folks, someone has to hold the line. Someone has to speak for the Maine taxpayer. Someone has to prevent us from heaping burden after burden on our children and our grandchildren. This isn't just about this year's budget, or even the next budget cycle. This is about the next generation.
Every year, politicians say they have to raise taxes just a little bit to pay for government. If cities and towns increase taxes only two to three percent every year, it doesn't sound like much. But over 10 years, that's a 20 to 30 percent tax hike. This has been going on for years at all levels of government.
That's why the federal government is 17-trillion-dollars in debt. That's why state government has outgrown our ability to pay for it, and that's why property taxes have skyrocketed over the past 20 years.
As these taxes have gone up and up, Mainers have not seen better services from government. Even with spending on school administration, overall student performance has not improved. Our roads and bridges are in disrepair. Our business climate is ranked last in the nation. Folks, higher taxes have not improved the lives of Mainers.
That's why I stand on the principle of not raising taxes. Raising taxes is not the only way to pay for government. It is possible to reduce the cost of government in a fiscally responsible manner without losing services and without raising the overall tax burden on residents, particularly those on fixed incomes.
If you allow politicians to raise your taxes--even just a little bit--they will take your money and spend it on their misplaced priorities. They will increase welfare, they will expand government and they will give more money to schools to spend on administrators, not the teachers, not the students.
Politicians from both major parties have misplaced their priorities to feed their addiction to spending. They are expanding government at a rate that cannot be sustained by our children and our grandchildren. They want to give welfare to able-bodied people, but they won't provide care for our disabled, our elderly and our children at risk.
For months, politicians refused to pay the hospitals, and they still refuse to find savings by fixing the fraud and abuse in our welfare system. They vote to increase the budget every year, but they can't find money for programs to prevent elder abuse or domestic violence. These politicians have shown time and again that they are not good stewards of the public's money.
Folks, as your Governor, I have just one priority. It's my job to make sure your money is managed in a fiscally responsible and business-like manner. My number-one priority is to protect the Maine taxpayer, not just for the next budget cycle, but also for the next generation of Mainers.
Until the politicians in Augusta can get their priorities straight, I will continue to fight against tax increases--even the little ones.