Maine GOP calls on Gideon to take responsibility for budget crisis

AUGUSTA – The Maine Republican Party is calling out Speaker Sara Gideon for her complete absence in speaking out on key issues impacting Mainers in recent weeks. After passing a rushed package of legislation to “deal” with coronavirus, Gideon left Augusta, hit the campaign trail and has not looked back.

Now, Maine faces the largest budget shortfall in 30 years due to the massive spending spree Speaker Gideon shepherded through the Maine House of Representatives. Two former governors say in a new article from the Portland Press Herald,“The revenue shortfall soon to unfold in Maine will be unlike any the state has ever seen, including the Great Recession of 2008 to 2010 and the decline of the economy following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”

Where’s Sara Gideon?

On the campaign trail, running attack ads and pretending to be a hero.

Here’s the reality: Sara Gideon pushed through a spending package last year that has put Maine on track for the worst budget crisis in three decades or more.

Now she is staying as far away from Augusta as she can.

Let’s be clear, many of us were warning Gov. Mills, Speaker Gideon and anyone who would listen that Maine would not be able to sustain their blockbuster spending spree. The shortfalls that are coming may be larger than predicted, but shortfalls were predictable.

Instead of setting aside more money in our rainy day fund, Speaker Gideon pushed for taxpayer funded abortions, twice voted to provide welfare for non-citizens and whole lot of other spending increases.

“It’s time for Sara Gideon to take ownership of the crisis that she helped create in Augusta,” said Maine GOP Chair Dr. Demi Kouzounas. “Sara’s spending spree is about to have catastrophic effects in Maine’s budget and people. Core services are being threatened every day the state continues on the massive spending spree Sara Gideon, Janet Mills and Troy Jackson pushed us into.”

Because of the state budget’s fiscal year calendar, the Maine Republican Party is cautioning Mainers that Gideon, Mills and others may try to apply a band-aid this year and get back on the campaign trail.

From the Portland Press Herald:
“But all 186 seats are up for election in November, meaning much of the heavy financial lifting in response to the COVID-19 recession will be left to the next Legislature.”

Speaker Gideon, Governor Mills and Senate President Troy Jackson must not push off bringing Maine’s state budget in line with revenues until next year.

“Pushing this off to future lawmakers would be unconscionable and worsen the crisis by an order of magnitude,” said Dr. Kouzounas. “Sara Gideon and her allies need to come back and fix this state budget, avoid raising taxes during a recession and bring spending in line with what we can afford.”

Waiting until January of 2021 to begin fixing the second year of the state budget would put Maine about halfway through the fiscal year before we could begin addressing problems.

“Speaker Gideon’s irresponsible spending and leadership drove Maine into this financial ditch,” concluded Dr. Kouzounas. “She owes it to Maine to come back and deal with the financial crisis she helped create.”

BACKGROUND
More than 100,000 Mainers are currently collecting unemployment due to layoffs as a result of COVID-19 stay home orders and other factors. This will severely impact Maine’s tax revenue going forward.

Moody’s projects Maine’s budget shortfall and fiscal impact could be as high as $1.1 billion, that is more than 20% of the state budget.

A study from Oxford Economics says Maine has the most vulnerable economy in the nation right now.

Officials say major travel reductions are going to dramatically reduce revenue from gas tax.

Sales and income tax revenue is also projected to take a major drop.

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