As I was returning from lunch the other day at my Augusta office, I ran into Rep. Lance Harvell coming out of the Republican Party’s state office. As we walked and chatted amicably, I learned that Rep. Harvell was somewhat annoyed at wasting his time with debating some bill about a sewer.
After a few minutes of Rep. Harvell’s typically animated conversation with quite a bit of handwaving, we parted company there on the street. This chance meeting left me wondering what sorts of things he might be proposing in Augusta for those of us here in western Maine. So I went back to my office and looked up some bills he was sponsoring. What I found was clearly a disappointment.
One bill Rep. Harvell sponsored is L.D. 1244 which is a “Resolve, To Advance Health Care in Maine.” As Rep. Harvell ran for election on a platform of cutting the Department of Health and Human Services and he was clearly against the so-called “Maine Welfare State” (which the facts are clear Maine is not), I found it ironic that he is now proposing to require the State Budget Officer to use federal stimulus money to pay outstanding MaineCare settlements for hospitals.
Further, this left me wondering what stimulus effect this would have at all in Maine. I’m not suggesting Maine should not pay their debts, but using federal stimulus money in this manner simply has no stimulus effect whatsoever. This would be a misuse of federal stimulus funds and that much is clear.
So then I ran across another interesting proposal, perhaps more “stimulating” than the first. Rep. Harvell sponsored L.D. 1168 which is “An Act To Allow the Taste Testing of Malt Liquor and Spirits.” I suppose that this is sort of a state level stimulus program as Rep. Harvell’s proposal would allow Maine state liquor stores to give away free liquor.
I would really like to give Rep. Harvell the benefit of the doubt, but I’m really left wondering.
What I would quite like to see is some strong advocacy in Augusta for spending federal stimulus money wisely on things that will make a difference in the future. Incentives for new businesses in green technologies would be an obvious choice among many others. We need jobs here in western Maine that are focused on a sustainable future, but we definitely don’t need free drinks on the public dime.