My two-year term as Maine State Treasurer ends today. I’ve been humbled and honored by the privilege to serve the State Legislature and the hard-working people of Maine. I thank you deeply for this rewarding opportunity.
The Maine Legislature elects our four Constitutional Officers, including the State Treasurer. The November elections returned the legislative majority back to the Democrat Party, where it had been for most of the past 40 years. The incoming majority elected the current State Auditor and former Democrat State Senator Neria Douglass as our next State Treasurer. I congratulate Treasurer-Elect Douglass and have been pleased to assist with her smooth transition.
Two years ago, our Great State faced a number of daunting fiscal challenges. $4.1 billion of pension benefits had been promised to 70,000 active and retired public school teachers and state employees that Augusta did not have funds to cover. State government owed roughly $500 million to Maine hospitals for Medicaid (MaineCare) services already provided to program enrollees. The increasing cost of our Medicaid program had been crowding out the State’s ability to fund other core services like road/bridge construction and repair. Federal stimulus money used to balance the state budget was running out. Wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars, or worse, was surfacing at the Maine Turnpike Authority, Maine State Housing Authority, and other organs of state government.
Each of these serious problems, some of which are still with us today, shakes the financial foundation of state government and, therefore, our state economy and the lives of 1.3 million fellow Mainers. Because of the trust that you placed in me, I was able to engage the Office of the State Treasurer to help find real solutions for these and other pressing issues. Here are some positive changes that we, together, helped to make for Maine families and businesses during the past two years:
These positive changes are building a solid foundation for a stronger Maine economy with more opportunities, and less government dependency, for our kids and grandkids. An increasingly affordable and fiscally disciplined state government, living within its means and taxing our families and businesses only what is necessary, will help attract business investment and more jobs to Maine. All the while, the growing tax revenues will better enable us to care for our most disadvantaged citizens.
Washington has shown that more government spending, more debt, higher taxes, and more complicated regulations smother jobs and economic freedom. I encourage the new State Legislature to continue to put Maine’s fiscal house in order, and to allow more of your hard-earned money to remain in your own pockets. Combined with lower health insurance premiums and expanded educational choices for students, the new Legislature would create even more incentives for businesses investment and more jobs for our fellow Mainers. We shouldn’t have to constantly worry about how to keep our kids and their families here in Maine. Quality of life must include a paycheck.
During the past two years, I never tired of the stunning beauty of the lighted dome above our State Capitol, framed by the proudly waving American and Maine flags. Turning off the lights at Treasury last night, I was reminded of the thousands of Maine taxpayer customers who shared with me their concerns for better lives in our beloved State. You taught me that good government is helping the most people with the fewest tax dollars.
Together, we made a big difference in two short years. Thank you for that opportunity.
Maine State Treasurer