My note to LePage on his proposed salary increase

Dear Gov. Paul LePage:

Love it! I love the idea of shrinking the Legislature. The bit about raising the salary for future governors isn’t bad either.

Among my many problems with and suggestions for your proposal, though, is its timing. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but the legislators are scheduled to leave in a few weeks, and they’re pretty buried with bills at various stages already. I’m guessing they won’t make downsizing themselves and some of their colleagues out of a job a priority at this time.

But I’m with you on making it smaller. The fact that your administration has unraveled our social safety net to such an extent that child hunger and poverty are among our state’s current claims to fame shows that more politicians don’t necessarily equate to more leadership. Have you heard about Merrymeeting, the Brunswick mental health services provider, closing, by the way? Ditto on the more politicians, more leadership comment.

As for a raise for future governors, I have an idea — besides the obvious suggestion that some future governor would be a far better poster child for the cause. How about we link the salary to the minimum wage times 10? That way future governors will be reminded of the value of their lowest-earning citizens every time they cash their check or check their deposit history.

Although that’s the same line of thinking behind building the Augusta Mental Health Institute directly across the river from the capital buildings: so lawmakers wouldn’t forget their most vulnerable constituents. Look how well that turned out, but forgive my digression.

Back to your proposal. With a current Maine minimum wage of $7.50, a salary of $70,000 isn’t that far off, especially if you take that $35,000-expense account I read about into consideration. I hope there are appropriate restrictions on that account. If not, I’m sure you’d agree that there should be a restriction to make sure none of that money goes to alcohol. Or strip clubs or tattoos, for that matter.

You don’t appear to be big on tats or clubs, but some future governor might be, and I’d hate to think taxpayer dollars would go toward such things.

As a former businessperson, I’m sure you can understand time management is a critical part of success. In that vein, I’d like to also suggest that this legislation might have been submitted earlier had you not dedicated so much time to those welfare reform revivals you keep holding. I think you call them town halls meetings.

Sure, it’s your right to have a traveling sideshow, but maybe you should hold them in the summer when the legislature isn’t in session, and demands on your time aren’t as great.

Or maybe you could forgo them altogether for a little while. If there is a citizen in Maine who doesn’t understand that you want to drastically and somewhat erratically cut taxes, reform welfare by demonizing the poor, selectively address the drug problem, and lower energy costs, that person either doesn’t want to know or actually can’t process that information. The rest of us have heard it too many times before.

Sincerely,
A poor blogger
(spanning two demographics you like to demonize)

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.