Recently, Maine Governor Janet Mills called the Legislature into a special session to consider a number of bond packages that included investments in our transportation, infrastructure, renewable energy broadband and conservation. Although I am pleased that the transportation bond will go to voters, I am disappointed to report that the others will not. Transportation is the only bond that will be on the ballot this November.
As a legislator, there is no harder decision to make than what we as a state spend our money on. I understand and value the argument of fiscal conservatism, but I also believe we must make wise investments in programs and systems that can better the lives of Mainers. It is important to me that when we passed our state budget we put $18 million in our “Rainy Day” fund and made reductions to the original proposal. We must be practical with our state’s money and putting some aside is one way to do that.
While saving our money is important, the harsh reality is that in order for us to improve our state, we must do some spending to invest in our future. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle speak passionately about a variety of issues that need support – addressing the unmet needs of our aging population and our schools come to mind as examples. Of course it is true that money does not grow on trees, but it’s also true that a financial commitment on our part can activate needed federal funds. I believe we should capitalize on getting back the Federal taxes Maine citizens pay to improve our lives.
My doctor has assured me that the money I’ve invested in quality running shoes and orthotics over years has helped keep my knees in good enough shape to click around the State House in my high heels. In other words, wise expenditures are important to make! We cannot have safe bridges and fix our potholes without spending money. We cannot take care of our elderly without paying long-term care workers fairly and investing in programs that support our aging population. We cannot provide a quality education without spending money to improve our schools and pay our teachers and we cannot combat climate change without investing money in forms of renewable energy.
We need to take care of one another and this means saving our money wisely and spending it wisely. As we head into the next legislative session, we must maintain a positive fiscal situation and remember “Dirigo,” meaning “I lead,” as we invest in Maine and its’ citizens for today and tomorrow.
Rep. Jan Dodge, D-Belfast, represents House District 97, which includes Belfast, Northport and Waldo