Control government spending

The federal government will never rid itself of the enormous debt it is carrying without getting control of its spending.Our money is being spent all over the world on things that don’t affect us and don’t risk out national security. Getting out of that bottomless pit of Afghanistan and Iraq would be a great place to start.

President Barack Obama should have gotten out of Afghanistan when Osama bin Laden was killed; big mistake not doing so. We could have saved a trillion dollars on that one move.Throw in Iraq and you have another trillion saved.

Gov. Paul LePage got control of Maine’s finances by first controlling the spending, not asking for more and more money first. Donald Trump should take a lesson from Maine’s way of doing things.

Douglas Pooler

Keep teachers teaching

As a Maine teacher I read the Dec. 28 BDN article about streamlining teacher certification with interest. I have this to say: Maine does not need to make it easier to become a teacher. Maine needs to make it easier to remain a teacher.

Specifically, Maine needs to do away with its three-year probationary status for new teachers. This is ridiculous. This keeps new people from entering the profession and prevents experienced teachers from moving to other positions where they’d be forced to begin the probationary process all over again. I am sure one year is long enough to evaluate someone’s suitability for the position they’re in.

Secondly, Maine needs to simplify its recertification process. Until recently, a teacher needed to complete the equivalent of two college courses every five years in order to recertify. Now, teachers must also justify which classes they took, explaining how these contribute to their teaching. This process discourages teachers from taking coursework not in their subject area that might prepare them to teach in others. This needs to be rescinded.

Finally, Maine’s congressional delegation must work to repeal the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision, which this state uses to deprive teachers of Social Security payments they or their spouses made working in other fields. While these are federal statutes, Maine is one of only 15 states that uses them to penalize its teachers. This is categorically unfair and discourages experienced, qualified people from entering teaching from other fields. It’s time it stopped.

Geoffrey B. Gillett

Maine needs a healthy ocean

As the cold sets in, the abundance of fishing and recreation boats winterized is a reminder of how much Mainers depend on the Atlantic Ocean for our livelihood. Protections for our ocean are now in danger. President Donald Trump’s proposed budget significantly decreases research funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which supports essential research on valuable marine species in Maine and elsewhere. Without this funding, Maine fisheries may find themselves unprepared to adapt to a changing climate.

The administration has also called for major adjustments to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument, a recently created preservation area 130 miles off Maine’s coast. The current protections of the monument aim to minimize short-term impact on New England fisheries, and reducing them may have significant costs to Maine fisheries and tourism that rely on a healthy ocean.

Maine owes the cleanness of its coast and ocean to the persistent savvy of fisherman and lobstermen’s associations, government agencies, sensible politicians and many others. We call on our elected officials to continue to protect our oceans and maintain Maine’s conservation efforts to give Mainers a healthy and clean ocean.

Will Parker
Environment Maine