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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Editorial Roundup

Both the Union Leader and Concord Monitor editorial pages weigh in on the state's budget problems.

The UL warns against modernizing the Liquor System as a quick fix to fill the budget hole:

Lawmakers can go astray, however, if they start looking at this as an opportunity to balance the state budget with one-time revenue. Four years ago, Maine leased its wholesale liquor operation to a private investment firm for $125 million. Such a figure is enough to tempt legislators who face a big budget deficit and don't really want to cut spending.

But using one-time cash to plug the budget hole is a terrible idea that will only delay the inevitable day of reckoning.

The UL also comments on a recent audit of the state's vehicle fleet:
For instance, most state agencies do not have required policies governing vehicle use. Sixty-nine percent of state vehicles have not been approved by the governor and Executive Council, and agencies simply replace vehicles without determining whether their continued use is needed.
Meanwhile, the Monitor wonders why the Liquor Commission is buying a tricked-out van while the Judicial Branch is looking at severe cuts:

Now about that mobile police van. The van, which is currently in storage, cost $355,000 plus another $67,000 for additions like a heat-seeking camera, subscriptions to satellite TV and radio service and a flat-screen TV that can be used to display evidence or to allow agents to watch the news while waiting to process drunken drivers. The van contains two cells, a bathroom and breath-testing equipment.

The mobile command center no doubt will, as liquor commissioner Mark Bodi says, improve the evidence used in court and prove useful in emergencies. But Bodi practically tied himself in knots while trying to justify its purchase during the worst economic downturn in decades. It will, for example, be helpful when educating people about the dangers of drunken driving, he said. Not while it's in storage, it won't.

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