Through The Conservative Prism 2018

 

In the last Gubernatorial race, I published a series of articles reviewing the candidates for Governor entitled “Through the Conservative Prism”. It is my intent to publish one overview of the Republican Gubernatorial candidates under the same title. The primary race comes down to two contenders, Garrett Mason and Shawn Moody, in my opinion, and I will explain why.

First of all, Ken Fredette, with all due respect to his talent and ability, has all but been eliminated from the race. His sheer will and determination to stay in the race are commendable in some respects, but his campaign has failed to gain any traction. Mr. Fredette understands politics and he should know that the honorable and common sense thing for him to do now is withdraw and allow his supporters to align themselves with stronger candidates.

Mary Mayhew started out as the front runner in some polling. Scandals from DHHS mishandling and neglect of child abuse situations has all but derailed her campaign. The spotlight from investigations has revealed even more troubling trends under her leadership. If by some strange twist of fate Mayhew would win the nomination, these swirling clouds of accusations of negligence would bury her in the general election. In my opinion, Mayhew should withdraw also.

One of the standards I use in judging a candidate for public office is to never believe anything a candidate says while running for office. Look at their record. This should be applied to all, especially Shawn Moody.

The basis of Moody’s campaign is that he is not a politician, but an outsider…..except….that he was appointed to public office by the Governor, which makes him…..a……politician and this is not the first time he has run for office, so he’s a politician. He asserts that he is an outsider because he is the only one who has worked in the private sector, but so have all of his opponents whom he claims have not. Mayhew an administrator, Fredette a lawyer, Thibodeau in construction and industry, and Mason in construction and an administrator for professional sports.

I’m not sure it is good policy for a future governor to pick and choose which job professions are legitimate and which are not. Moody has differentiated himself from his opponents in one respect. He is the only one who has built his campaign on a complete lie. He is a politician, He is no more an outsider than anyone else, and he is no different than his opponents in both those respects.

Now his record is troubling in its duplicity. He has very strong friendships and ties with green energy interests yet claims he is for the everyday hard working people whose businesses and home budgets are being crippled by green energy mandates and subsidies. He claims he is for the traditional family and family values but has in the past talked about instituting his own new social values. What exactly are those?

He claims to support gun rights but at recent sportsman show posted pictures touting his support “for this blue collar issue.” The natural born right to self defense is not relegated to a blue collar. It is an every collar issue and this shows a troubling trend of a politician trying to adjust on the fly to the issues in an effort to get elected.

Moody is a good businessman. Obviously, Governor LePage has tapped him to be the third and fourth term of his administration, as most of LePage’s staff are on Moody’s campaign team. My concern with Mr. Moody is that his campaign rhetoric does not match his past behavior on many issues.

Garrett Mason is the wild card. For much of this race, he has been discounted because of his youth. Yet, continually he has shown himself to the steady hand and the adult in the room. In all of the issues, in contrast to Mr. Moody, Mason’s record is consistent. His conservative belief system, instilled in him from his youth, has guided his legislative actions as well as his personal. On family, on fiscal issues, on gun rights, and on issues of the Constitution and Liberty, Garrett Mason has a steady consistent record of defense that speaks for itself.

Campaign rhetoric means nothing if does not match your record. There is too much doubt that hovers around the other three candidates. Garret Mason’s record is clear and consistent. It is for these reasons that The Maine Conservative Voice endorses Garrett Mason to be the Republican nomination for Governor of the State of Maine.

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The Plight of Small Town Maine

 

When filtered through the lens of a photographer, reality can take on a different hue, which by design challenges the perception of the viewer. Pictures of worn and decrepit structures throughout rural Maine have been filtered and presented as idyllic beautiful art for a collector to hang on the wall, finding visual satisfaction. The reality of those pictures tells a different story for those who live in the surrounding region.

Rural Maine, Small Town Maine, and Farm Town Maine, are slowly decaying into their own landscape. The greater sadness is that the factors to their demise are beyond the control of Small Town Maine. No, this is not even the tale of little communities who cannot keep up with the changing times or technologies; but instead, is the story, to often told in Maine, of bureaucratic government’s abuse, corruption, and overreach and the cowardice of those, who should, to curtail it.

It’s the story of Atkinson, Maine. The farming community that I live in. It’s a story that could be rewritten into the borders of every little town in North Central Maine and very little of the plot would be changed.

At last census, Atkinson had 326 people who resided here. That number now is in the mid 200’s. In comparison to the wildlife and dairy cattle, humans are clearly in the minority in Atkinson.

But the hay fields, farm lands, streams, and timber lands of this community has become ground zero for the subversive tactic of choice by leftist environmental groups. These groups have hijacked tax windfall programs designed to benefit farmers and timber harvesters in the state of Maine. These groups and individuals have bought up large tracts of land and put them into programs which are tax free or nearly tax free, rendering nearly 75% of Atkinson’s land virtually nontaxable.

This has driven the mil rate of a town with less than 300 (less than that pay taxes) to 23.5. Couple the non-existent tax revenue with ever burgeoning school budgets in an under performing school district, and you have recipe for the slow painful death of a little town. Small Town Maine,bound and helpless, led to its demise.

Atkinson has more land in Open Space conservation than all of the towns in Aroostook County combined. Northeast Wilderness, out of Montpelier, Vt., holds 6000 acres in conservation easements, along with one individual, who owns 10,000 acres in easements, the Alder Stream Preserve, and plans to turn over his land to North East Wilderness. The State of Maine and the Bud Leavitt Preserve holds another 1000 acres in tax exempt status.

Some of these lands were at one point put into a program called Tree Growth. This was a program designed to give tax incentives to large paper companies such as Great Northern and International Paper in an effort to encourage them to stay in our State and continue to employ and boost our forestry industry. A requirement for Tree Growth is to have a working harvesting plan, yet many of these conservation groups have no such plan or fail to implement them.

Our state has over-regulated our forestry and farming industry until it is nearly gone. These tax incentives were given to those industries with an understanding of an economic trade off that benefited our state’s economy. No such trade off exists with environmental groups who are exploiting these land trust plans to benefit their agenda.

Atkinson decided to fight back in the only way it could, by deorganizing. It has been a long arduous process which has resulted in no good answers for anyone, but with also little choice for Atkinson. I would draw imagery of David and Goliath except David wins in his story.

Suffice to say, the withdrawal/deorganization process is legalized extortion. I will address this in another column. As with all of the Small Town Maine, Atkinson is the victim of a government and bureaucracy that is unwilling to reform its practices.

Because the people of Atkinson have voted to withdraw, in retaliation the single landowner of 10,000 acres has obtained permits to put all of his land into Open Spaces, which cannot be taxed. Programs, which were designed to encourage job growth, are being used as political bludgeons on rural Maine. Of the 23,000 acres of land in Atkinson, 17,000 cannot be taxed to the benefit of the town, the tax burden is shifted to the few remaining landowners who pay taxes. With a predicted rise in mil rate to 28, these few small landowners are effectively subsidizing the abuses of wealthy land barons.

The fault lies with a government that turns a stone ear to the plight of its rural towns. These processes must be reformed. Out of state groups and land barons cannot be given a free hand to destroy the economies of Small Town Maine, while at the same time operating at the expense of those same towns. Augusta needs to start working for and listening too Small Town Maine.

The Red County Caucus’ Statement on the Passage of Tax Reform

 

The President has signed a historic tax reform into law. While Democrats claim the power of the seer akin to Nostradamus portending wild-eyed apocalyptic doom as a result of wage earners and wage payers keeping more of the fruits of their labors, in the real world of the real truth this new tax structure affords real tax relief to virtually every wage bracket in the United States. Contrary to the liberal narrative, it is not theft for Americans to keep more of their wages.

Immediately the business world has reacted to this news by infusing more money into the pockets of their employees through bonuses and investing in expansion. Maine has seen this first hand with the announcement by CIANBRO of its plan to hire 300 new employees. With the burdens of a outdated, antiquated tax structure lifted, and the roll back of onerous regulatory laws, the business world sees the promise of a bright new horizon for prosperity and is responding with a resounding charge forward.

But it is not just the corporate and business world that will see much needed relief. The threshold for non-taxable income has been significantly raised, helping low income families keep a majority of their hard earned money, raising the hope of building a better tomorrow for their loved ones. The child tax credit has been doubled, an adjustment long overdue.

With the President’s move to sign the bill into law this week, taxpayers will see almost an immediate impact to their personal economies as the new law will be in effect for the February tax season. While critics seem to struggle to wrap their intellect around the common sense doctrine that a citizenry that keeps more of its own wealth is a more wealthy citizenry, the proof of a stronger robust economy is already bearing fruit. Maine would do well to take heed.

Maine must look for ways that it can shrink the size of its overall budget. By lowering the state income tax and eliminating much of its burdensome regulatory bureaucracy, Maine can continue to move towards establishing a fiscal landscape that is both inviting and hospitable to entrepreneur and investor alike. Also of primary concern must be the reduction of the high electrical costs in our state if we wish to compete and grow our economy.

Finally, the Red County Caucus has not been quiet in it’s criticism of recent Republican Party failures. As such, we would be remiss if we did not offer our strong commendation to the Republican Party as a whole for the passage of this historic tax reform. Senator Susan Collins and Congressman Bruce Poliquin, in particular, should be praised for their support of this accomplishment, along with President Donald Trump. Once again, we the citizens of the United States have proven that, with government out of our way, there is nothing quite as powerful as the indomitable spirit of the American people.

The Red County Caucus Issues Statement on Collins’ Support of Tax Reform

 

Reports that Maine’s ranking Senator Susan Collins has announced her decision to support the Senate version of the Tax Reform bill is welcome news to the hard-working taxpayers of Maine. We, the members of The Red County Caucus, would like to commend the Senator for this decision. While the bill falls short of the necessary reform that the tax structure needs, it is a positive step forward and establishes a good foundation for future reform.

Senator Collins was successful in securing concessions from Republicans in exchange for her vote. A political victory for Collins to be sure , but the impact upon our economy remains to be seen. What remains perplexing to Maine voters is Collins’ continued defense of Obamacare and the Individual Mandate, which she campaigned against.

The Red County Caucus recommends that Senator Collins take the time to engage with her constituents, specifically small business owners, whose budgets are choked by the onerous effects of the Individual Mandate. Perhaps then she would understand its negative impact upon the economies of Maine residents and businesses. Still, the people of Maine should applaud this positive announcement from their Senator.

Opponents of Tax Reform have touted the projections from the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) and this should be addressed. Simply stated, the CBO has been historically and consistently wrong in its projections and, sadly, in recent years has become increasingly partisan, which only further diminishes its credibility. All honest and non-partisan analysis agree that tax reform will bring much needed tax cuts across all wage brackets, doubling much needed child tax credit, and increase tax refunds for middle to low wage earners.

In summation, Senator Collins should be commended for her support of the Senate tax reform bill. This bill, though far from perfect, provides much needed tax relief for the wage earners and businesses of the United States. If the repeal of the Individual Mandate remains in place, this bill is a strong positive move forward towards reforming our outdated and burdensome tax structure.