Guest Post: AFA Explanation, by Rep. Amy Arata
As we approach election season, you’ll start to see negative advertising. You may receive
postcards criticizing me because I voted against this or that bill. I’m going to explain how a bill gets funded, which will put this in perspective.
In the last 4 years there have been thousands of bills submitted. Each bill was assigned to one of 18 committees. The governor’s general budget was assigned to the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA), of which I am a member. The budget increased by over 11.4% in Mills’ first budget, and relied on projected tax revenue plus the surplus left by LePage. There was little left over to fund additional spending, and Republicans also wanted to increase the Rainy Day Fund in case of an emergency.
After a bill is passed by the House and Senate, its cost is calculated by government staff. AFA
then determines what bills are worthy and affordable and votes to fund them. At one point,
there were over $935M worth of bills being considered in addition to the governor’s budget!
Both parties agreed to fund $6M of bills in my first term, which would only cover a tiny fraction of the bills that were passed.
As we voted on bills in the House chamber, I noticed a strange occurrence. Democrats voted
for most of the expensive bills, while Republicans voted for very few. The Democrats’ attitude was, “We’ll let AFA decide”. The Republicans’ attitude was, “It’s our responsibility to decide now”. This allows Democrats to take credit for voting for bills that they know cannot be funded, while criticizing Republicans for not being generous. I’ve heard that some bills were submitted just so they can beat Republicans up for not voting for them, even though they knew they’d never get funding! Can you imagine the economic devastation if we were to allow every spending bill to go into law? I’m so glad that Maine’s constitution requires us to have a balanced budget!
In politics, things aren’t always as they seem. I hope this helps you understand some of the
claims that will be made as we approach election day, so that you can make informed decisions as you vote. I’m proud that I don’t vote “yes” on everything just so I can pat myself on the back for being “generous” with your tax dollars and buy some votes!
*This is a guest post by Rep. Amy Arata. The views expressed are those of Rep. Amy Arata, and not endorsed by the New Gloucester GOP. The New Gloucester GOP supports the right of individuals to submit guest blog posts freely, and without censorship. If you are interested in sharing an article, or post please send all submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org