Friday, May 24, 2024

Barbara Bagshaw: Legislature failed to address the needs of most Mainers

By State Rep. Barbara Bagshaw

The 131st Legislature has concluded its business. The general effective date for nonemergency laws passed in the Second Regular Session is Friday, Aug. 9, 2024. It has been a very difficult two years with the Maine Legislature breaking with its long-standing tradition of bipartisan budget work and taking Maine in a decidedly different direction.

State Rep. Barbara Bagshaw
In a few short years, the overall state budget has ballooned to well over $10.3 billion. During that time the problems facing Maine have gotten worse. My biggest disappointment is that with billions of dollars in excess tax revenues, the Legislature did not pass structural income tax reform to let taxpayers keep more of what they earn. I am also disappointed that the Legislature did not address the issue of skyrocketing electric bills.

The drastic price increases Mainers are experiencing can be absorbed by those who are well off, but they are increasingly troublesome to Mainers that live paycheck-to-paycheck or who are part of the declining middle class.

Maine’s housing situation gets worse by the day, yet tens of millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent to temporarily house economic migrants at the expense of our own homeless population, seniors, veterans, and young people seeking housing. I question whether Maine has the housing options to absorb the 75,000 new Mainers the Governor has pledged to attract to Maine.

I believe that citizens are best served when Democrats and Republicans are able to work together on solutions to make life easier for those trying to earn a living and raise a family.

A prime example of that was the Legislature’s adoption of a long-term funding solution to help improve Maine’s roads, bridges and transportation infrastructure. The law we passed last year created a sustainable source of funding for the Highway Fund by dedicating 40 percent of the 5.5 percent sales tax on vehicle purchases and 40 percent of sales and use taxes collected by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. It was expected to generate more than $200 million for infrastructure repair per biennium.

Sadly, even that achievement was almost eliminated in the middle of the night. I salute citizens that expressed their displeasure with taking money from the highway fund and raiding retiree pensions to fund additional spending. Cuts were restored with the exception of $11 million that has been taken from the transportation budget. That still means that, with the federal match, there is roughly $33 million less going to fix our roads and bridges.

I remain hopeful that the dramatic increase in citizen participation that we have seen this session will lead to a more congenial, productive, work environment that prioritizes the pressing concerns of all Maine citizens over special interests.

Representing part of Windham in the Legislature is an honor. If there is any way that I can be of assistance, please contact me at My office phone number is 207-287-1440. You can find me on Facebook. To receive regular updates, sign up for my e-newsletter at <

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