2018-03-15 / Editorial

Universal care or universal waitlists?

This fall, Maine voters will be asked to create a new entitlement program called “Universal Home Care for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities.” This initiative will be funded by a 3.8 percent payroll tax on those who earn more than $127,000. This sounds like it will fill some gaps in needed services for many of our fellow Mainers who need these services, right? Not so fast.

When you dig into the details several things pop out. First, it creates a board that will be unaccountable. There’s no mechanism to remove members of the board even if they have conflicts of interest. Under this board a huge new bureaucracy will need to be created to administer a whole host of new programs.

For some reason it requires any person working under this initiative to be covered by collective bargaining just as a state employee. Why? Is it to ensure that the unions that represent public sector employees have increased dues that can be directed to political efforts? Is it right to force caregivers to pay dues and join unions to work in their chosen field? Don’t union bosses have high enough salaries?

This new entitlement program also makes promises that can’t be kept. The promoters know this. That is why the initiative includes the possibility of new waitlists and even allows promised services to be cut at the board’s discretion. Imagine seniors expecting a program to be available and then having to languish on a waiting list. By the time they reach the top of the list it may be too late. We already have people who need services on waitlists. We can’t afford more.

Maine is already in a demographic death spiral. Our youth are leaving the state in droves because they can make more and keep more of what they make elsewhere. This amounts to another job killing tax on the people most able to vote with their feet. In 2016 when Mainers approved the last tax hike at the polls, Maine Health found it more difficult to recruit doctors and medical specialists. Fortunately, the Legislature did the right thing and repealed this job killing tax hike.

As our state competes with other states to attract business and jobs, we simply cannot afford to increase taxes on those workers and entrepreneurs who will fuel our economy. They can and will go elsewhere while our state continues in a downward spiral.

In short, Maine cannot afford yet another entitlement program that will only grow the bureaucracy, kill jobs in the private sector and make promises which cannot be met. Just say no to universal waitlists this November.

Mike Coleman is a former town councilor in Old Orchard Beach and was a member of the Maine Republican State Committee from 2010 through 2017 where he served as budget chairman under three separate state chairmen. He represented Maine at the Republican National Convention as an alternate in 2012. He recently left the Republican Party and became an Independent.

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