What does $2.6 billion mean? An old Washington joke says, “A coupla billion here, coupla billion there, pretty soon you’re talkin’ real money!”

A TV ad for Charlie Summers, Republican candidate for Senate, announces that, at the end of independent Gov. Angus King’s term, state spending was $2.6 billion dollars. Presumably, the implication is that spending was out of control.

In 2006, the Legislature’s Office of Fiscal and Program Review did a report on Maine’s tax burden. It found that from 1995 to 2003:

* State taxes per capita, after inflation, rose by 10 percent.

* State taxes as percentage of personal income fell from 7.9 percent to 7.5 percent.

Standing by itself, $2.6 billion means nothing. When I look at all the facts, I see an eight-year period of fiscal restraint. I voted for Angus King before and will do so again.

Lloyd C. Irland


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