ME GOP Leaders Release 'Promise Made, Promises Kept' Achievements
House & Senate Republican Office
October 9, 2012
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Jay Finegan, 287-1445
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Republican leaders release ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept’
catalog of legislative achievements
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AUGUSTA– Republican legislative leaders today unveiled a publication titled “Promises Made, Promises Kept” that catalogues the many accomplishments of the 125th Legislature, now drawing to a close. The 16-page booklet recaps the signature achievements of the first Legislature since 1974 in which Republicans had the majority of both the Senate and the House.
Senate President Kevin Raye and House Speaker Robert Nutting headlined the unveiling, which took place during a State House press conference. Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney and House Assistant Majority Leader Andre Cushing also spoke at the event, as well as small business leaders whose companies are benefitting from bills enacted into law.
In an opening message, President Raye and Speaker Nutting pointed out that the 2010 election was a wake-up call. “Maine people wanted a break from the path our state had taken since the 1970s,” they wrote. “They wanted pro-business policies that foster job creation and innovation in our state. They wanted lower taxes, less debt, and less dependence on government, and they expected more transparency. Republicans listened and pledged that, if elected, we would bring a change of direction to state government.”
In a testimonial, David Clough, Maine director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said this Legislature should be measured by improvements made in the climate for new jobs and small business growth. “The 125th Legislature,” he wrote, “seemed rightfully focused on what can be done to make it easier for business owners to invest and create jobs, compete successfully with companies outside of Maine and build a stronger economy for Maine people.”
The booklet’s first section – “Recovering Maine Jobs” – reviews the central legislative initiatives to generate jobs and attract new employers to Maine. Those measures included the largest tax reduction in Maine history, an overhaul of the dysfunctional health insurance system to spark competition and lower rates, and the elimination of duplicate and unnecessary regulations, encapsulated in LD 1, which passed the Legislature with overwhelming support.
One beneficiary of regulatory relief appeared at the press conference. Katy Kelly, general manager of the Driftwinds Motel in Wells Beach, described how the business spent 13 years and $150,000 trying to obtain a permit to build an elevator for its elderly patrons. A bill sponsored by Rep. Kathy Chase of Wells, and passed with unanimous legislative support, created a standard for minor expansions to buildings in sand dune systems. The Driftwinds plans to begin construction of the $500,000 project next month, creating work for many local trades, such as electricians and carpenters.
The following section – “Remodeling Education” – notes that Maine now allows the formation of charter schools and has expanded education in the trades for high school and community college students. Another Republican-led bill implements rewards for high-performing teachers by creating a new performance evaluation system for Maine educators.
A section on welfare reform observes that the Legislature made roughly $110 million in structural changes that bring Maine closer to the national mainstream. These adjustments will help end annual MaineCare shortfalls and ensure program stability. One major initiative caps TANF welfare benefits at five years, consistent with federal law and in line with most other states. The new law protects the most vulnerable by providing for hardship exceptions for the elderly and the disabled.
Under the category of “Restoring Trust in Government,” the report notes the cleaning up and reform of the Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA) and the Maine State Housing Authority, along with the termination of the Maine Green Energy Alliance, which squandered large sums of money while grossly underperforming its mission.
Senator Roger Katz, chairman of the Government Oversight Committee, is quoted as saying he is proud of the role Republicans played in cleaning up corruption at the MTA. “The former executive director is now in prison,” he said, “restitution has been made, and the message has gone out loud and clear that Mainers deserve transparency and honesty from their government.”
A section on transportation notes the elimination of the automatic, annual fuel tax increase and enactment of a bill toughening penalties for young drivers with repeat offenses to curb a sharp surge in teenage traffic fatalities. The Legislature also abolished the sales tax on aircraft and parts to make Maine competitive with other New England states. Gene Richardson, owner of Maine Aero Services at Bangor International Airport, says the exemption has already increased his business, especially in selling aircraft parts. His small company has added several new employees in the past year.
Considering the vast scope of legislative achievements, the booklet can’t explore major bills in depth. The tax package, for example, included accelerated depreciation for companies that invest in new equipment. For Rob Tod, founder of Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, that incentive led him to add a new bottling line and install 10 new fermentation tanks.
“Without the bonus depreciation, we would have deferred buying the equipment, because we would not have had the cash to do it,” says Tod, who couldn’t attend today’s press conference due to a scheduling conflict. “Instead of reserving money for taxes, we were able to speed up growth, and with new equipment, you need more employees.”Allagash hired 15 new workers last year and expects to hire more in 2013.
Rep. Cushing noted that the multitude of legislative achievements over two years made it difficult to keep track of events during this exceptional session. “It helps to collect many of the highlights into one place, as this booklet does,” he said. “When you look at the totality of what we accomplished, it’s clear that Republicans kept the promises we made to Mainers when we sought the chance to govern.”