Commentary

Three Bills You Should Be Grateful LePage Vetoed

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Tomorrow, legislators will assemble under the dome for “Veto Day.” Here is a peak at a few of the most important vetoes that will be considered.

  1. LD 1649, “An Act To Modernize Maine’s Solar Power Policy and Encourage Economic Development”

This bill, sponsored by Representative Dion (D-Portland), would subsidize solar energy in Maine at the detriment of household ratepayers and businesses. As previously reported on The Maine Wire, estimates on the exact cost to ratepayers varied greatly, however the Public Utilities Commission estimated that in five years, this legislation would cost all ratepayers around $22 million annually AND would cost the general fund $200,000 in the first and second year and $263,000 in 2019.

The solar industry itself admits that the average ratepayer would see an increase of around 31 cents per month. That doesn’t sound too bad until you consider that for large electric consumers (and employers) such as Sappi, Bath Iron Works and Fairchild, this “modest increase” could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each month.

How many businesses need to leave Maine or go out of business because of our unreasonably high energy costs before we address this issue? Maine households and employers can’t, and shouldn’t, be paying higher energy rates because the State has decided that the cost of solar energy should be socialized among all ratepayers. In the words of the wise Representative Beth O’Connor, if you can afford it on your own dime, more power to you.

  1. LD 1614, “Resolve, To Provide Funding for County Jail Operations Funds”

This bill, sponsored by Senator Rosen (R-Hancock), is essentially a $2.4 million bailout to the prison system that does nothing to address the ongoing funding problem caused by the county funding cap.

The way things work currently, counties are responsible for operating jails and for covering the cost. However, counties put a cap on the amount of funding available for operating prisons. As a result, when expenses go beyond the funding cap, jails then turn to the State to step in to provide supplemental the money to cover the difference between what they spend and what the counties provide for funding.

By continually bailing out the jail system with state dollars rather than addressing the problem by eliminating the cap, we are removing any incentive for counties to actually be accountable for controlling prison budgets.

We can’t, and shouldn’t, continue to throw tax dollars at this problem without addressing the core of the issue.

  1. LD 1579, “An Act Regarding the Maine Clean Election Fund”

This bill, sponsored by Representative Rotundo (D-Lewiston), would transfer an additional $2,500,000 from the General Fund to the Maine Clean Election Fund in June to cover the increased cost of candidate welfare caused by the drastic increase in candidate funding from Question 1 last November.

Need I say more?

About Krysta West

Krysta West is the Communications Director for The Maine Heritage Policy Center. Prior to her time with MHPC, Krysta served as a Legislative Assistant at the National Rifle Association. Krysta is a native of Arundel, Maine, and has served as an aide in the Maine Legislature.

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