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Maine GOP Leaders Defend Legislative Record
10/09/2012   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

Two years ago, Republicans took control of the Maine Legislature, and GOP leaders are making their case to Maine voters to give them another two years at the helm. Among their accomplishments, they're claiming reduced taxes, state debt and and less regulatory red tape. But Democrats say that Republican rule has actually widened the gap between the state's poorest and wealthiest citizens. A.J. Higgins has more.

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Maine Republicans want voters to think about how much their lives have changed in the two years since the GOP captured the Blaine House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. House Speaker Bob Nutting says the mission has been to carry out the marching orders voters gave back in 2010.

"And what they said was that they wanted to reduce taxes, that they wanted to get rid of onerous regulations, that they wanted to stop the death spiral of Maine's health insurance market," Nutting said. "And furthermore they were tired of being Number 50 in a list of business friendly states."

Democrats who lost control of both houses have criticized the GOP budget priorities. But Republicans say budget bills were approved by large margins by members of both parties.

"Five out of six of those budgets received the unanimous support of the Appropriations Committee," said Maine Senate President Kevin Raye.

"We set priorities like the regulatory reform bill that the speaker and I sponsored and that Sen.Courtney and Rep. McKane helped to usher through to passage - 35-0 in the Senate, 147-3 in the House of Representatives," Raye said.

But Democrats have taken aim at the Republican record in campaign ads, and seized upon the state's lagging jobs picture.

"Look, Republicans have been governing this state for two years - this is their economy, it's their health care insurance bill,"
says Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond. "They don't want to take any accountability for any of the consequences of their policies and their decisions. And they've been doing this now for two years, and enough is enough."

Alfond says GOP claims of reforming education by creating a charter schools bill, improving access to health care through insurance reforms and approving welfare reforms that bring the state closer to the national mainstream, have not delivered for Mainers. And Alfond says the voters he's meeting with expect more from their lawmakers.

"People are frustrated," Alfond says. "They're frustrated because there are no new jobs, they're frustrated because the tax cuts are giving so little to them, they're frustrated because gas is so expensive and this is Republican control. They are in control, they're controlling the budgets, they're controlling the agenda -- they have all the votes to pass anything they want."

The Republican leaders say they will be distributing a booklet titled "Promises Made, Promises Kept" to voters who would like to learn more about their accomplishments.


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