All Maine Matters

October 2006



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All Maine Matters

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Vol. 1, No. 10      October 2006 FREE

Maine: Where We Go From Here?
By Rep. Rich Cebra

Thirty straight years of one-party rule in the Maine House of Representatives have turned our great state into an economic “basket case.” Let me quickly review the record.

We have the highest tax burden in America. We have the highest property taxes – as a percentage of income – in the country. We have second highest health insurance rates in the nation. We are ranked as one of the most hostile states for business.

Our job creation rate is abysmal, forcing our young people to leave Maine to find work – after we spend a fortune to educate them. Consequently, we have the oldest population in America.

As our kids leave to launch careers elsewhere, they are replaced by people who move here to live on our generous welfare benefits. We have the highest rate of people on Medicaid – free medical and dental care – in the country. We have a governor who has turned Maine into a “sanctuary zone” for illegal aliens.

Our roads are in terrible shape, thanks to endless raids on the Highway Fund to finance even bigger “social welfare” programs. And we learned recently from the Federal Reserve that our economy actually went backwards last year – it got even smaller. We share that dubious distinction with only one other state – Katrina-ravaged Louisiana.

Today we stand at a crossroads. If we keep moving in the same direction, we can expect even more socialism, higher taxes, a greater out-migration of our youth, more poverty, fewer good jobs, and an influx of illegal aliens who will feast on our welfare system.

However, if we change direction, we can begin the job of taking back our state from the left-wing extremists who have hijacked Maine and seem bent on turning it into a full-blown socialist state. Reversing direction, and restoring our historic character of self-reliance, hard work, and reasonable taxation, will require a long, tough fight against deeply entrenched and bitter adversaries.

We have a choice. We can fight, or we can surrender our state and our future to the dark, destructive forces of socialism.
I choose to fight. My vision is for a Maine where the economy can grow without the huge burdens the state places on it. These include staggering health insurance costs; oppressive income taxes, state mandates that drive up property taxes, and red tape and regulations that suffocate innovation.

I envision overhauling the gigantic Department of Health and Human Services, and returning our Medicaid enrollment to the national average before this program devours the whole budget. The current DHHS is a bottomless, chaotic pit sucking the life out of the General Fund.

I see the state returning to sensible levels of community support, taking care of the truly needy but expecting able-bodied people to work and contribute. We need to eliminate the terrible waste and stop the Baldacci administration from growing DHHS at the expense of all other departments. I see a reprioritization of state government where we halt the slide towards “nanny state” socialism and rekindle the entrepreneurial spirit.

I want a state government that pays its bills, and does not push billions of dollars of debt onto our children.

We need a state government committed to building and maintaining our highway infrastructure, and equally committed to increasing the use of ethanol to replace gasoline. Ethanol can be made from potatoes. With some vision and common sense, we could become a major energy producer, to the great benefit of Maine farmers.

We need to fully fund departments like Conservation and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife so they can operate effectively. We can’t ask them to keep doing more with less. These departments are cornerstones of our tourism-based economy. They must be outstanding in their fields to attract visitors to the state, while simultaneously focusing on long term conservation.

Maine’s natural beauty is a tremendous asset. We must assure its protection to perpetuate the quality of life and economic benefits that flow from our spectacular coastline, our lakes and rivers, and our mountains and streams.

We need to terminate the mandates that have wrecked our health insurance market, and bring premiums down to the same rational levels that most Americans enjoy.

We need to stop all the nonsense in education, especially catering to the Maine Education Association. This organization has been part of the problem for years. While claiming to do it all “for the children,” they have been pushing their own social agenda. One MEA official was recently asked when the MEA would start focusing on the children. His response: “When they are members of the union.”

We need to stop equating dollars spent with good education. If this were true we would have a legion of geniuses. Instead, our kids are now scoring below the national average on the College Boards. Relentless increases in school funding do not mean better education, only more expensive education.

We need to fight for economic development for communities without the ravages of sprawl, assuring a good quality of life for our children. Similarly, we need to vigorously defend our individual rights. Our freedoms need to be protected and the best defense is to thwart any erosion of these rights and to promote the individual’s Second Amendment right to self-protection.

We need to stop the outrageous proliferation of “blue ribbon” commissions and studies that suck up state revenue, create reports that no one reads and generate do-nothing jobs for political cronies at the taxpayers’ expense.

We need to severely restrict the growth of government. Government is big enough. The Taxpayers Bill of Rights will help slow down the Augusta spending machine. Then we need to work for TABOR’s inclusion to the Maine Constitution.
We need to actively educate the people of Maine on the real issues and expose the lies and misinformation designed to perpetuate big government.

I pray that the people of Maine will see the mess we’re in and have the courage to change this state’s direction and have the faith in us to make the changes. I also pray that, if given the chance, we won’t let them down.

Representative Rich Cebra, a small business owner, represents the 101st House District, including Casco, Naples and part of Poland. Married 14 years with two children, Rich is active in local affairs on the Naples Budget Committee and Naples Main Street revitalization committee. He is a charter member of the Naples Lions club, a life member of the NRA, a member of SAM and the Citizens Alliance of Maine, and is an active supporter of the Right to Life movement. He is active in supporting TABOR and promoting the idea of smaller more efficient government whenever he can.

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