Head Start a good investment

In the last decade, child poverty rates in Maine have considerably increased. Children’s early years are especially critical because of the way early experiences mark their developing brains. Adverse childhood experiences such as homelessness and malnutrition frequently influence one’s physical health and future cognitive abilities.

Head Start has proven to increase school readiness for children from prekindergarten to third grade in the areas of language and literacy skills, problem-solving skills and social-emotional aspects. Studies found that students who graduated from Head Start are more likely to finish high school and stay out of jail, compared with children who needed the services but were unable to access them.

An increase in funding to Head Start is fundamental to ensure that Maine children living in poverty have an equal opportunity to succeed. The program continues to enable all children to have access to medical, dental and health insurance. Investing in Head Start today means less dependence on social welfare, and saving on public expenditures in the future.

Increasing access to Head Start, will not only positively affect the educational development, but will also enhance the health and social services for children in poverty, or with disabilities. Moreover, more funding will help pay for well trained teachers, allow for smaller classrooms that have one-on-one support, and will improve the quality of the curricula delivered.

Undoubtedly, investing in our children in their early developmental years will pay off, as it equips them with the skills needed to become independent adults.

Lauren Degrange


Don’t punish Mainers with pre-existing conditions

The health care bill pushed by the leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives may be coming back to life in an even more damaging form.

The legislation would hit people 50-64 with an “age tax” that could cost them up to $13,000 a year. While this would not affect me personally, I wanted to voice my deep concern regarding this faulty legislation.

The deal being talked about behind closed doors could allow insurance companies to deny coverage or increase costs by thousands of dollars for people with pre-existing conditions. Twenty-five million Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 have a pre-existing condition, such as cancer, heart disease, or high blood pressure. More than 123,000 of them live in Maine.

Coping with a pre-existing condition is painful enough. The last thing the government should be doing is telling insurance companies it’s OK to add to the suffering.

Who wins under this legislation? Big drug and insurance companies.

Let’s not go backward by once again permitting insurance companies to punish someone for having a pre-existing condition. And we can’t allow legislation to slap older Americans with an unfair age tax. I hope people all over our state will tell their members of Congress what a terrible idea this is.

Margie Higgins


Bill singles out immigrants

Immigration is good for Maine. Without immigrants, our population would be declining, and unfilled job openings would slow our economy. As with the waves of immigrants in our past, immigrants today are bringing energy, initiative and diversity to make us a stronger and better state.

But a bill introduced in the Legislature would make immigrants feel less welcome and, in fact, afraid to be here. The bill is LD 366, An Act to Ensure Compliance with Federal Immigration Law by State and Local Government Entities. It would make local police officers act as immigration agents. It would punish the cities and towns that don’t comply by cutting all state funding, even though federal law does not require local law enforcement to engage in federal immigration enforcement.

This bill would not make us safer. Law enforcement works best when there is trust between the police and the community. If the immigrant community becomes afraid of their local police and doesn’t report crimes or cooperate with criminal investigations, the work of policing becomes more difficult.

Racial profiling could also occur. People could be singled out for different treatment for looking “foreign.” This would create a climate of fear.

Please join me in opposing LD 366.

Sally Regan


Fight Trump’s anti-climate agenda

We are appalled at the proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget and staffing outlined in President Donald Trump’s “skinny budget.” We are writing to urge Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to fight back and protect the health of Mainers.

The president’s cuts would slash the EPA budget by 31 percent and eliminate 3,200 of the agency’s employees. This would have a major impact on our clean drinking water, air quality, and efforts to combat climate change. Here in Maine, the EPA provides funding for nearly 100 jobs at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Americans do not want these environmental rollbacks. A recent poll from Quinnipiac shows higher levels of disapproval for Trump’s actions on the environment than any issue other than health care. Data show that majorities of men (59 percent) and women (64 percent) disapprove.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently stated that he does not believe human carbon dioxide emissions are to blame for climate change. As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt accepted more than $300,000 in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry. Coincidence? We think not.

We are thankful that Collins and King voted against Pruitt for EPA administrator. Now, we urge both to fight to preserve the EPA and the important programs it administers that protect the health of Maine people. We hope that all concerned Mainers will join us in appealing to our senators.

Michele and Geoffrey Bird


Limit cruise ship size in Bar Harbor

I am opposed to the construction of the Bar Harbor mega pier to accommodate mega cruise ships. I support the Bar Harbor citizens initiative, Article 13, that will be on the June 13 ballot in Bar Harbor. Passage of Article 13 will provide a mechanism for the residents of Bar Harbor to limit the size ships allowed to use whatever pier might be constructed.

Why oppose mega cruise ships? Mega cruise ships bring large numbers of low-revenue day tourists who displace high-revenue overnight tourists. That’s bad for Bar Harbor business. Mega cruise ships are mega dirty. Air pollution inside cruise ships is 60 times dirtier than outside. Noise pollution. Light pollution. Effluent pollution. Ugh.

Mark Masselink