Mike Tipping, the communications director for the liberal activist group Maine People’s Alliance, is granted a regular opinion column in the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.

His rambling, Dec. 11 opinion piece, “Legislators shouldn’t let life under dome blur link to constituents,” said nothing new, but we think it’s important to address one of his points, which we have seen made by some during and since the election campaign.

Tipping wrote: “Far too many progressive lawmakers thought they could make a deal with Gov. Paul LePage and Republicans. They allowed cuts to health care and assistance programs and gave in on huge new tax breaks for the wealthy in a compromise that they hoped would stave off even worse cuts targeting the poor and the vulnerable.”

As Republican members of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, which writes the state budgets, we were there.

We were sitting in the room with our Democratic and Republican colleagues listening closely to hours of testimony in an attempt to prioritize state spending.

There were never any agreements or “deals” made between Republicans and Democrats, nor with LePage, that welfare spending would be safe from scrutiny after the passage of the two-year state budget, which included the tax cuts Tipping decries — tax cuts that actually left the wealthy paying a greater share of state revenues.

Perhaps some Democrats had hoped to be able to preserve spending levels on methadone and maintain funding for unfilled staff positions at the Department of Health and Human Services — two of the items we later addressed in a supplemental budget — but they never proposed, nor did Republicans ever accept, any such “deal.”

When Republicans gained control of the Legislature and governor’s office two years ago, Maine had the ninth-highest tax burden in the country, coupled with the second- to third-highest levels of spending on TANF cash welfare, Medicaid eligibility and enrollment, food stamps, and overall welfare spending as a percentage of total state spending.

It was time for a change in direction. We did what we were sent to Augusta to do. We built bipartisan consensus to reform Maine’s broken government, passing five of six budgets with two-thirds supermajorities.

Tipping may not appreciate the moderation and reasonableness of many of our Democratic colleagues in the last term, but we are grateful that they, and indeed many Republicans, parted with ideology to implement the fixes that Maine so desperately needed.

Nobody got everything on their wish list. Characterizing that reasonableness falsely as an instance of Democrats getting “duped” is nothing but a shrill look backward from a hyperpartisan, paid political operative whose electorally motivated opinions are unfortunately dignified with space in Maine’s oldest newspaper.

Reps. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade, and Tom Winsor, R-Norway, serve on the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee.

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