State Budget Should Focus on Building a Stronger Middle Class

The Maine Children’s Alliance joined our partners Maine Equal Justice Partners, Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Women’s Lobby and Maine Center for Economic Policy to call upon legislators to pass a budget that expands opportunities for all Mainers. Read the full media release below.

CONTACT:  Sara Gagné-Holmes

Maine Equal Justice Parnters

(207) 626-7058, Ext. 201

sgh@mejp.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jan. 23, 2013

 AUGUSTA – With public hearings on Gov. Paul LePage’s supplemental budget beginning today, it’s time to change the conversation from the current cycle of crisis-and-cut budgeting to a long-term plan for Maine that makes building a stronger middle class and eliminating inequality a top priority.

“A strong middle class doesn’t happen by accident. It takes deliberate policy choices that can expand opportunities while helping families move from economic crisis to stability,” said Sara Gagné-Holmes, executive director for Maine Equal Justice Partners (MEJP). “The governor’s current budget proposals will pull the rug out from under thousands of families who are working hard to join the middle class. These are short-sighted initiatives that will slow the state’s ability to leave recession behind and create greater inequality.”

MEJP is joining with the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP), the Maine People’s Alliance (MPA), the Maine Women’s Lobby (MWL) and the Maine Children’s Alliance (MCA) to call for sound public policy that expands opportunities for all Mainers.

Gov. LePage has proposed a supplemental budget to revise in the state’s current two-year spending plan and a two-year budget for 2014-2015 that would make drastic and dangerous changes, including a massive tax shift onto property tax payers, elimination of the program that provides prescription medicine to seniors and people with disabilities, reduction in support for retirees and devastating cuts to anti-poverty programs that fight homelessness and help working families.

“The governor’s proposals punish the middle class and working families by shifting the tax burden onto their backs. Growing the economy requires fair taxes with everyone paying their fair share,” said MECEP executive director Garrett Martin. “This budget benefits the wealthy at the expense of programs that strengthen and grow the middle class.”

“Maine people know that paving the way for economic progress means shoring up the middle class. That’s why Maine has a Property Tax and Rent Refund Program to help make property taxes more fair,” said MPA executive director Jesse Graham. “But only about half of the families eligible for refunds are participating in the program and refunds keep getting cut. Maine needs to restore refunds to their full value and enroll more low- and middle-income families who qualify but don’t participate.”

Hearings for the supplemental budget begin today at the State House.

“We know that a strong middle class is essential to Maine’s future prosperity, and we make that a reality by ensuring that all of us have access to health care and a quality education beginning in early childhood,” said MWL executive director Eliza Townsend. “These are two of the building blocks needed to create a pathway out of poverty for all Maine people.”

 Children are among those at greatest risk from the current budget proposals.

“Nearly one in five Maine children lives in poverty. We can’t turn our back on them,” said MCA executive director Ned McCann. “Head Start, home visitation, and similar programs help children begin their lives and education in a way that maximizes their opportunity for later success. Instead of focusing on short-term, boom- and-bust cycles, we must take a longer view that recognizes how important it is to invest in our children, their education and their futures.”

Maine Equal Justice Partners is a non-profit legal aid organization that works to find solutions to poverty. It is the leading organization in Maine for independent research and analysis of Maine’s safety net programs, and a trusted source for nonpartisan information on TANF, MaineCare, General Assistance and other aid programs.

###


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s