Daily Brief: Poliquin promotes balanced budget amendment

Four years of high school French and the best I can do is this: Bonjour from Augusta, where it’s Franco-American Day!

For the 14th year running, lawmakers and everyone else at the State House complex will honor the Francais among us. Dignitaries from France and Canada will be here to usher a special proclamation through the Senate, which will be presided over today by Democratic Sen. Nate Libby of Lewiston. According to a story by Scott Thistle over at the Sun Journal, Libby will deliver remarks in both French and English and announce new inductees in the state’s Franco-American Hall of Fame. Gov. Paul LePage, Maine’s first French-speaking Franco-American governor, is expected to deliver a speech and the national anthems of France, Canada and the U.S. will be sung in both the House and Senate.

It’s a day many at the State House look forward to and enjoy. You can find links to the House and Senate audio and video feeds here

Yesterday, I wondered aloud in the Daily Brief what would be on the menu at Cross Cafe for St. Patrick’s Day (it was boiled corned beef and cabbage and it was fantastic). Today, my guess is Tourtiere Pie (I think tourtiere is French for “tasty ground pork” or something like that). I’ll report back in tomorrow’s Daily Brief. 

Committee work kicks off at around 1 p.m. today. The Education Committee will host a public hearing on a bill that should pack the room: An Act to Prohibit Standardized Testing of Children before the Third Grade, sponsored by Rep. Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick. 

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee is hearing comments on three bills designed to protect Maine’s lakes and ponds, and the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee will consider a recommendation on a bill that could save an expensive visit by the furnace man for anyone who runs out of oil: An Act to Allow a Home Heating Oil Delivery Driver to Bleed [restart] a Home Heating Oil Burner, sponsored by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham. 

The Marine Resources Committee has a handful of bills concerning lobstering rules and the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee will make recommendations on several voting rules bills. Among them is a concept that has generated controversy here and across the country: a bid by Sen. Ron Collins, R-Wells, to require voters to provide photo ID at the polls.

Until tomorrow, au revoir. — Christopher Cousins

Poliquin aligns with Republican leadership on balancing budget

It’s perhaps in the “not surprising” category, but freshman Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, has endorsed an attempt to add a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Poliquin did not, as reported in an earlier version of the Daily Brief, endorse an austere budget proposal that was unveiled Tuesday by Republican leaders in Washington. He is still reviewing the plan, according to his staff. The budget, developed by Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price, was attacked immediately by Democratic groups. It contains, among other things, an overhaul of Medicare, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and $5.5 trillion (trillion with a “T”) in spending reductions over the next decade.

Poliquin was one of the speakers at a Republican leadership press conference Tuesday in Washington. His comments advocated for the passage of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require Congress and the president to keep the federal budget balanced, which has been a goal of Republicans for years.

“Once Washington learns to live within its means, we’ll have job creators that have the confidence to expand their businesses, create new one and create more jobs,” said Poliquin. You can see video of his full speech here.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee read Poliquin’s public appearance with leadership Tuesday as an alignment on the budget and was quick with its condemnation.

“Congressman Poliquin stood with his party leaders to back a budget that devastates Maine seniors and student,” said DCCC spokesman Matt Thornton in a written statement. “Congressman Poliquin has made it clear: He’s looking out for himself in Washington, not middle-class families in Maine.”

The House budget bill has little chance of being fully implemented for a range of reasons, including that Congress has been unable to pass a federal budget for years and there’s still a Democrat in the White House.

Mayors to release prosperity plan

The Maine Mayors’ Coalition on Jobs and Economic Development, which includes 11 Maine mayors, is scheduled to unveil their plan for improving Maine’s economy today at an 11 a.m. press conference at the State House. The coalition has been among the most vocal opponents in recent years of a range of LePage initiatives that put upward pressure on property tax payers.

Details of the coalition’s proposal have not been released, but they will likely include investments in public infrastructure, broadband expansion and workforce training initiatives.

The mayors of Sanford, Portland, Bangor and Augusta will be on hand for today’s event. Not scheduled to speak is Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte, who directs LePage’s office of policy and management and who is one of the most outspoken supporters of the governor’s budgetary and tax reform goals. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

Secret to longevity

Stories about people who have lived through 100 or more birthdays are relatively common, but I read them every time. There’s always a line about what helped them live so long which ranges from “a cigar and bourbon chaser every day” to “a seaweed and tree bark diet.”

Johanna Billings, the BDN’s brand new Washington County bureau chief (welcome, Johanna!) reported Tuesday that 106-year-old Cora Quimby of Machias might be Maine’s 2nd-oldest resident.

Her secret to longevity? She never owned a car.

“We walked to school, church and wherever we wanted to go,” she said.

Get out your walking shoes, people. — Christopher Cousins


Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.