Maine lacks rural policy. Like in other states, Maine’s urban policy is resized for rural — and it’s a poor fit.

The governor’s budget delivers rural policy, all right, and it is horrible for rural Maine. Rural people know their communities well. If we have a problem, we fix it or adapt. But this budget attacks rural from all sides.

Sales tax is regressive, and increasing it is bad for rural businesses and residents. Revenue sharing is critical for low tax base rural communities.

Dissolving the Bureau of Parks and Lands to plug budget holes will destroy acres of public land, a draw for tourists and recreation for rural residents.

Nonprofits play a big role by leveraging funds for outside the community to help support public services. Taxing them reduces their budgets and erodes this leverage.

Why eliminate the homestead exemption for younger people when we want them to stay home? The budget does nothing to support rural health care, still reeling from the governor’s failure to participate in the Affordable Care Act. It eliminates some health care funding for seniors who make up a larger percent of rural populations.

Why provide tax breaks for corporations retroactive and future, when we should support rural businesses that give us a bigger bang for the buck?

We need a budget that supports rural communities. The budget should subsidize rural businesses so they can make a profit and follow regulations, offer a living wage and health care for employees, maintain good practices and expand. A rural friendly budget should support rural driven planning, community collaboration, incentives for volunteers, honor the school funding agreement, increase the homestead exemption, and incorporate farm support initiatives proposed this session.

I’ve spent all my life as a rural person, and I think this budget is bad for all of Maine and devastating for rural communities.

Jo Ann Myers


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