Stuff about me
My name is Keith Michaud and this is “Letters From Away,” a blog written by a Mainer living outside the comfortable and sane confines of New England. The blog is intended for Mainers, whether they live in the Pine Tree State or beyond, and for anyone who has loved ’em, been baffled by ’em or both. Ayuh, I am “from away.” Worse still, I live on the Left Coast – in California. Enjoy! Or not. Your choice.
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Stuff people write
- How Maine Became a Laboratory for the Future of Public Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Angus King Urges Interior Department To Reconsider Offshore Drilling Proposal | Mainepublic.org
- Maine Voices: Higher education, employers must work together for bright future | Portland Press Herald
- Stunning reversal: McDaniels turns down Colts’ job to stay with Patriots | The Associated Press via the Portland Press Herald
- Kennebec River water levels could stay high into next week | Bangor Daily News
Tag Archives: state budget
Economist: Maine growth slow, state budget stable | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram
Legislative budget panel making final adjustments | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram
Despite increased revenues,
next year will still see reductions
AUGUSTA – Gov. John Baldacci proposed to alleviate some of the deepest cuts in the state budget Wednesday by providing additional funds to support human services and education.
A revised state revenue forecast that projects a $51 million increase in receipts this fiscal year and next, and additional federal money, combined to give the governor and the Legislature $78.7 million of breathing room.
“Despite today’s good news, we know that our economy is fragile and recovery is far from certain,” Baldacci said during a news conference in his office.
Baldacci continued to characterize state spending as frugal, saying the current two-year budget will be $5.6 billion – a modest increase from his first budget, seven years ago, that was $5.4 billion.
Even with the increased revenue, state lawmakers face a $360 million shortfall.
Click on the link for the rest of today’s story by Susan Cover in the Kennebec Journal.
(Hard to tell if this is great news or just hohum news. — KM)
In recent years Maine has tripled the amount of land set aside for conservattion. I really, really like the idea of protecting the land from development.
That said, there are some very interesting points raised in the comments section of the online story, mostly about accessibility and the loss of tax revenue. But protecting lands could mean new jobs in outdoor recreation, environmental education, etc.
There are several mentions in this story about how large paper and timber mills used to own much of the land and that those companies allowed access for recreational uses, including hunting, fishing and snowmobiling. I recall as a child stopping at a gate in the woods to be let onto those lands. Going through the gates meant being able to enjoy the outdoors.
Oh, and here’s a link to a Maine Public Broadcasting Network story about the acting state conservation commissioner offering to help the state close its budge gap. One of the things to be cut — a helicopter. And, according to the story, there’s already an offer for the helo.
Here’s a link to that story.
|New Acting Conservation Chief Outlines Budget Cuts|
File this in the category of things that prove our similarities rather than our differences.
Staff writers at the Bangor Daily News picked the top-10 stories to watch in the coming year. The wording on the issues may be off slightly, but generally speaking these are some of the very same issues – selecting politicians and getting them to do their jobs, state budget problems, finding renewable energy to sustain us, affordable health care, medical marijuana, protecting and balancing wildlife – faced here in California.
Here is a link to the story and the BDN list:
1. Governor’s race – This will be a big deal in California, too, what with the way things are here and the way things have gone with the Governator. He got into office as a result of a recall election, but his popularity numbers are pretty low now. He wasn’t exactly a government action hero. It seems like the recall was more of a waste than people realized when it happened. Maine will require strong leadership in the coming years to deal with the challenges ahead. I wish that upon Maine.
2. State budget woes – Same here. The economy has hit everyone very hard, including governments. The thing about governments, of course, is that lawmakers often fail to be creative in generating revenue and cutting expenses. Increasing taxes and fees and trimming essential programs is only going to hurt the common person. It’s time for politicians to do the job for which they were elected – run government within the means their bosses – taxpayers – dictate. I may sound a bit conservative on this point, but I’m more than a little fed up with politicians working the system to their personal benefit when they should be doing things to benefit their constituency.
3. Wind power expansion – I like green. I like wind power. I recognize there are critics. I may be missing something – it wouldn’t be the first time – but the biggest criticisms seem to revolve around viewscape and noise issues. Power companies that will profit from wind farms must deal with these issues quickly and move this along. We as a nation are addicted to oil, and a vast portion of that oil comes from regions that simply are no longer friendly toward the United States. Wind farms have been in California for decades and it is time more regions at least consider wind power to help lessen out dependency on foreign oil.
4. Health care reform – Health care in this country is broken and needs fixing.
5. Medical marijuana – If I or anyone in my family or anyone I knew had cancer or another illness that caused extreme pain or debilitating nausea, I would want for myself and them the relief that medical marijuana can provide. And it has to be regulated.
6. Bangor’s new direction – City and county governments around the country seem to be suffering from a void of leadership. It is time for strong leaders to step forward to do what is best for all.
7. Folk Festival future – Cultural enrichment is a necessary part of life and is a measure of a society. Across the country, the economic downturn has hurt nonprofit agencies and events such as the Folk Festival. Better leadership for such agencies and event boards is necessary, as is public-private support.
8. Tax reform referendum – Taxation is a necessary evil. It is the means by which we fund necessary functions of government, from filling potholes to propping up those who are unable to support themselves. But there are abuses and there are limits. We must find a balance that allows us to sustain that support of basic functions and social services, while allowing for taxpayers to prosper. I’m not sure if the reform question on the June ballot is a “Maine miracle” or will hurt working poor and the elderly. And while I recognize that tourist will be paying the higher sales taxes, so will people who are already hurting financially. The idea of filling the gap by raising the number of items on which sales taxes can be charged seems a problem. But if it does pass and it works as supporters believe it might, it could be a template for reform around the country.
9. Maine’s deer herd – This is a problem that needs real short- and long-term solutions. Logging practices that have eliminated habitat, predators such as coyotes and bears, and harsh winters have all taken their toll. Deer hunting is critical because it draws tourist dollars and because families that are suffering, have a chance to put meat on the table. The harshness of winter is something we cannot control. Restoring habitat will take time. The necessary thinning of the coyote and bear populations to a point that allows the deer to recover will take time. The efforts to reduce the coyote and bear populations must be regulated and not done willy nilly. A chamber of commerce recently sponsored a “tournament” to kill coyotes. That is not a solution. That is a tantrum. We lessen ourselves as a society if we resort to such tactics.
10. Fisheries regulations – This will be interesting. Lobstering is a tough business. And these regulations seem to make it even tougher. Granted, I believe the effort is an attempt at striking balance. Whether it works make take some time.