I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! As we move into the holiday season and buy gifts for our loved ones, it’s important to remember our friends and neighbors that own and run small businesses here in Portland and in Maine. By making a conscious effort to purchase your gifts from local businesses, we can have a huge impact on our city’s and state’s economy.

Click here to read more about Portland Buy Local.
Click here to read more about Maine Made products.
Revenue Report
When we craft and build budgets in Augusta, we build them based on projected revenue for a two year period. Often, we collect more or less revenue than expected, and we as legislators must adjust the budget accordingly.

Revenue for the first quarter of FY ’13 (July to September) were $27M below projections, and preliminary numbers for October indicate that the trend will not change. Yesterday, the Appropriations Committee meet and learned from the Governor’s administration that the state is facing a budget deficit of $125-150 million. Over $100 million of the shortfall is the result of more spending in the Department of Health and Human Service. What does this mean? It means that the Governor could issue a curtailment immediately which would mean equal cuts across state government or the Governor could wait and present a supplemental budget for the entire shortfall in January. Then, the legislator will need to make cuts, find new revenue, and identify efficiencies to balance the remainder of the FY2012-2013 budget.

Click here to read a story from the PPH about our budget shortfall.

Click here to read the full report. (PDF)

Update from Augusta
Over the last two weeks, the majority of my work has been focused on preparing for the 126th State Senate. I have been meeting with Senators and Senators-elect to plan our legislative priorities for January. I have also been working with staff to prepare for the swearing-in on Wednesday, December 5th.

Next Wednesday, December 5th, all duly-elected Senators and House Members will be sworn-in by the Governor, we will elect our leadership in both bodies and we will vote on constitutional officers. The official election for Senate President will take place that day. There are a number of traditions that take place during the swearing-in; for example, it is traditional for the Senate President to wear a morning suit. Another interesting tradition is the Senator from Franklin is absent for the swearing in because it’s tradition for them to be stoking the fire.
Reporting Back
Last week, I asked you what your top priorities were for the 126th Legislature. The message was resounding: work with everyone in government and create jobs. Other priorities included implementing the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), addressing energy costs and pollution, and addressing the revenue shortfalls facing the next budget.

We are one week away from the new Senate. In my last email, I asked you what your priorities were for the 126th Senate. This week, I want to know how my emails can be improved. What information and reporting would you’d like to hear from Augusta?