As you ponder what has been written in the newspapers regarding the budget talks in Augusta, I want to shed some light of the events from my perspective.

From what I can see, we do not have a revenue problem in Augusta, we have a spending problem. There are many instances where I just shake my head and think that we could do a much better job of prioritizing our needs and wants that will later be included in the budget. Members of the House Republican caucus are holding strong to what we believe is right and are advocating for the change that I heard over and over while on the campaign trail last summer.

Sticking to one’s principles can be a very easy thing to do when you’re presented with the choices we have before us regarding the state budget. For starters, I firmly believe that we need to properly fund our nursing homes to ensure they remain open and providing the necessary services to our elderly.

I also want everyone to know that there are people in the state who have been waiting for years for critical services, only to be pushed to the back of the line year after year. These people with severe mental, physical and developmental disabilities are left languishing on wait lists, while far less pressing matters are funded instead.

These people are the truly needy among us, and I find it reprehensible that this was not included in the majority budget that was reported out of committee last week, but funding for methadone clinics was fully funded. It is crucial we get these people the care that they need, and I will fight tooth and nail until this happens.

Welfare reform was the No. 1 issue that I ran on last year and is something I am strongly in favor of. Currently, the state provides general assistance funding for non-citizens. This, to me, is absurd. Maine is only one of five states that provide this kind of service because it is illegal at the federal level.

Now, let’s talk about income tax reduction, an idea first proposed by Gov. Paul LePage in the budget he proposed in January. House Republicans are fighting for an income tax reduction package that provides tax relief for all hardworking Mainers. Income tax was intended to provide temporary relief, and now it has been around for more than 30 years.

There was a time when three competing budget proposals were being negotiated, and they all had some form of income tax reduction package. It seemed to be the one common bond between Republicans and Democrats.

I was stunned to see the majority budget voted out of committee included no income tax reduction and adds $300 million in additional state spending.

I think all of us should ask ourselves a few questions. Do we think we should prioritize welfare for non-citizens and funding for methadone clinics over Maine’s nursing homes and our most vulnerable? Is it OK to increase state spending by $300 million to fund a budget full of misguided priorities and Democratic pet projects? I say no.

Neither I nor my colleagues in the House Republican caucus will sit by idly and watch as those who need our help the most are ignored. We’re standing on the principles and priorities that all Mainers hold dear.

In my short time in Augusta, I have met some great legislators on both sides of the aisle. What you read in the newspaper doesn’t really represent the closeness of the two parties. Many people in the opposite party I would consider friends, and we are actively working together to find a compromise on the budget.

I will stand strong and work with leadership to pass a budget that is best for all Maine residents.

Rep. Brad Farrin, R-Norridgewock, is serving his first term in the Maine House, representing the residents of District 111 which encompasses most of Madison, Norridgewock and Solon. He serves on the Transportation Committee.

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