I was employed by the state for more than 30 years before retiring 29 years ago.

My entire career has been involved in taxes and finance, for the state and also for private industry and the federal Internal Revenue Service.

I worked hard for the state of Maine and was well paid for my expertise and abilities. My last 17 years of state service was with the Legislature as finance officer and administrative director.

My employees and I worked with the Appropriations Committee in my role as legislative finance officer, and we put out a lot of good, fair and balanced budgets.

I know what the word “balanced” means, and I also know what “gimmick financing” means.

I worked with some of the finest department heads this state has ever had. I made a lot of friends, no enemies that I know of, and I knew finances and budgets as well as anyone in the state.

I recently received a newsletter from Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, explaining all the changes made last session.

Lawmakers, however, didn’t really balance the budget if they have to come back and find more than $25 million to balance it during the last year of this two-year budget cycle.

A balanced budget doesn’t contain tax relief for high-income people, it doesn’t increase the inheritance tax exemption from $1 million to $2 million “not funded,” leaving the next Legislature to deal with the loss of revenue of somewhere around $400 million.

I believe this Legislature is being run by the ultraconservative Christian Coalition, the tea party and the Maine Heritage Policy Center. These organizations poured somewhere around $400,000 in out-of-state money into the state last November to beat five Democratic Senate candidates and assure control of the Senate for Republicans. All five Democrat candidates were defeated.

This budget has been “balanced” on the backs of the elderly and the state employees (current and retired). It gave a little more to educators but also gave municipalities less in revenue sharing funds, thus passing more cuts onto their end.

Gov. Paul LePage didn’t get everything he, or someone wanted, and he has said he’ll get the rest this session. He said we would have 1,500 fewer state employees at the end of his term. Probably so, with some forced to retire in order to keep their insurance.

It’s OK to be pro-business; businesses love it. They hate regulations and unions.

Maine is a large, poor state, many of its residents are low income and has the second highest elderly population in the country, behind Florida.

Mainers are survivors, and we will survive. America is the greatest nation on earth, and Mainers are tough, resilient people.

I read a report on the retirement system’s financial condition that showed the market value of the system’s assets as of Dec. 21, 2010, were $10.3 billion. The report also rated Maine among 16 states with a perfect pension score, making it the only New England state with such a high rating.

It costs less to be in our system than it would if the employees were under Social Security.

State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin’s primary job is to be the state’s treasurer. He is also an ex officio member of the retirement system and other boards. He was a bigtime loser in his bid to be governor, and he has now become a state employee, being paid by the taxpayers like other state employees.

As a state employee, Poliquin should not forget his primary job.

I don’t believe LePage really thought he would become Maine’s governor. It’s a lot different running the state than buying and selling goods at Mardens. He now has the job, though, and I wish he him the best.

I do think he and his spokesperson, Press Secretary Adrienne Bennett, should clean up his act, though; there are a lot of problems in that area.

Katz should save the postage on his newsletter. I think I know how this so-called “balanced” budget was done.

William Garside of Augusta is 87 years old and was the state’s finance officer for 17 years. He also is a past president of Maine Association of Retirees.


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