Time to take a deep breath
Panic and hysteria! It’s happening right before our eyes: totally irrational decisions based on hype. If you didn’t read the two OpEds in BDN on March 12 by Dr. Abdu Sharkawy and Matthew Gagnon, then maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and read them.
Unfortunately, panic is ruling the day and not common sense. Just as the two writers pointed out, yes, coronavirus is real and present, and proper precautions need to be taken, but overreacting has us all in a tailspin — which may be worse than the virus itself.
Maine needs a retirement savings program
If you have been following the state legislative session, you know that there is a bill – LD 594 – making its way through the process. This is a bill that would establish a retirement savings program for Maine, which is something we sorely need.
Too many retired Mainers have virtually no savings at all. Many working Mainers in their 60s who plan to retire soon face the same plight, and so it continues one generation to the next. Our aging workforce moving into retirement increases public-assistance spending on the elderly and results in an enormous burden for all Maine taxpayers. We need a retirement savings plan for our state, and LD 594 will help get us there.
The program works by offering employees a way to save money through automatic contributions into an IRA directly from their paychecks. There is no cost to the employer and the employee will see their money grow week after week, year after year. Setting aside even a small amount will make a huge difference down the line.
Research by AARP, mutual fund companies and others show that there is a remarkable spike in savings program participation rates when employees’ contributions are automatic. Under LD 594, if an employee doesn’t wish to participate, they don’t have to. They can simply opt-out of the program anytime they wish. In addition, LD 594 stipulates that any money an employee saves will be theirs to take with them from job to job.
Our state cannot afford to continue without a viable savings program for working Mainers. It would be fiscally irresponsible not to pass LD 594, and I strongly urge our legislators to pass this critical bill.
Investing today in Maine’s future
In spite of nearly $240 million in the state’s “rainy day fund,” Republican leaders in Augusta imply with their comments that we can’t afford to make investments in our people or our infrastructure.
Republican Senators Dana Dow and Jeff Timberlake turned up their noses at Gov. Janet Mills’ supplemental budget proposal, in spite of an additional $20 million that will be added to the rainy day fund.
If an austerity approach to budgeting brought shared prosperity, eight years of former Gov. Paul LePage’s chokehold on spending would have created that. How do the senators propose we fix our roads and bridges that are so necessary for commerce, educate the young Mainers who are our future, or make sure everyone has broadband access so they can work remotely or grow a fledgling business?
How do we attract new residents without adequate opportunities for education and training beyond high school and without quality childcare options?And why not borrow now when interest rates are at historic lows? Postponing only insures more costly “fixes” later.
Mary Ann Larson