I am sure that everyone knows the political season is upon us. In our country, those that do the governing can only do so with the permission of the governed. We will elect a president, members of the U.S. Congress, a new state legislature and many local officeholders. We also have the tax cap and bear hunting referendums to decide. These matters often become more emotional than logical.
In recent weeks, there have been letters, press releases, surveys, and even radio ads written or issued by my opponent Sen. Steve Stanley and the democrat senate office. These attacks have accused me of being purely partisan, refusing to compromise, and have blamed me for everything from the state budget woes to the rainy summer we just experienced. The flurry of criticism increased as negotiations over whether a bond package would be put out to public referendum or not. One letter, critical of statements by Rep. Jim Annis and myself regarding Maine being the highest taxed state in America, caused a considerable backlash. Several responses were written and even one local high school felt compelled to print an apology. I would like to add that I never in any way felt the opinion of the letter writer was the policy of his employer, Foxcroft Academy. Foxcroft Academy is one of the finest schools in Maine and I am very proud to have been able to represent them in the Maine Senate.
Maine has many important issues to decide. Not only are we very heavily taxed; we are losing our most important resource, our young people. In Piscataquis County alone, we have lost over 30% of our 20-34 year olds in the last ten years. Our medium income is far below the national and New England average. Our businesses have been leaving at a rapid pace, and yet it seems they have been offered no sensible solutions to help them. Just recently, Gov. Baldacci placed into the majority budget a new law that took sales tax exemptions from any business that has less than $10,000 in revenue per year. This affects about 60,000 small businesses in Maine and many in Senate District 27. It also makes doing business very difficult for them. I recently attended two briefings by the Maine Revenue Services, one in Millinocket and the other in Dover-Foxcroft. At both locations, people expressed their disgust with this idea. I have talked with Gov. Baldacci about this and urged him to include a correction for this in his bond proposal. He told me there was not time to do so. I could go on and on about our poor business climate and how the high taxes, and regulations are directly related to job loss and youth leaving.
As the Chairman of the Taxation Committee, my opponent knows very well that the only proposal for tax reform is the Palesky Proposal. The only thing that came out of his committee was an idea prepared by him to increase the sales tax by 20% with no guarantee it would translate into tax relief. The democrat party has had control of both branches of the legislature and the governorís office, and yet we have no tax relief. While I question the judgment of my opponent on such matters, and note that all votes regarding such issues are public record. There are issues that need to be discussed and even debated. They do not require the harsh personal attacks that are becoming so common.
I call upon Senator Stanley to stop the attacks, and join me in discussing the real issues. I have met many people on the campaign trail that share many of the concerns I have. Our part of Maine is very beautiful, a great place to raise a family, yet it is starved for opportunity. Our system is broken and needs to be fixed, letís debate how to fix Maine and make it a better place for all citizens. Stop the attacks; letís talk about the real issues.