Currently showing posts tagged Governor John Baldacci

  • Gov. John Baldacci and City Councilor Joe Baldacci to host Pro-Minimum Wage Spaghetti Dinner in Augusta


    Proceeds to help feed needy children in the area and their families

     By Ramona du Houx

    Former Governor John Baldacci and Former Bangor Mayor and City Councilor Joe Baldacci will host a spaghetti supper to highlight why the minimum wage should be increased. The dinner will be held at Cony High School, 60 Pierce Drive, Augusta on May 11th, from 5:30-7:30. And it’s only $5 per person!

    “These spaghetti dinners have always been a great opportunity to bring the community together for a family dinner that encourages discussion and unity on important working class issues,” said Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci. 

    The Baldacci brothers will be cooking the spaghetti sauce from their family’s secret recipe that became famous at Momma Baldacci’s, the former family restaurant of Bangor. The two-term governor, along with his brother will be serving the meal.

    “Our dinners have become a family tradition, one where we’re proud to help out when and where we can,” said Governor John Baldacci.

    Gov. John Baldacci serves up the famous Baldacci spaghetti at a charity dinner. Photo by Ramona du Houx

    Proceeds will go to the Augusta Food Bank to benefit needy children in the area and their families.

    Augusta City Councilors Dale McCormick, Linda Conti, and Anna Douglass Blodgett are graciously co-hosting the event.

    Speakers from the Maine Center for Economic Policy, the Maine People's Alliance, the Maine Democratic Party, other political leaders and concerned citizens will address the dire economic situation faced by low income Mainers and the need for action to increase the minimum wage. According to the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute (EPI) the federal minimum wage of $7.25 is worth $2 less today than it was in 1968 when adjusted for inflation.

    Maine’s minimum wage is currently $7.50 an hour, increased during Baldacci administration in 2009. All efforts to raise the minimum wage at the state level since then have been defeated by Governor Paul LePage.

    Maine’s current minimum wage forces far too many families onto welfare rolls, and the need for federally subsidized healthcare. Someone working 40 hours a week at the minimum wage of $7.50, would earn $300 each week—or approximately $15,600 every year—well below the federal poverty line for families of two or more.

    Up until the early 1980s, an annual minimum-wage income—after adjusting for inflation—was enough to keep a family of two above the poverty line. At its high point in 1968, the minimum wage was high enough for a family of three to be above the poverty line with the earnings of a full-time minimum-wage worker. The falling minimum wage has led to poverty and inequality.

    “Historically low wages are being paid because that is what the inadequate law—which doesn't increase at the same rate as the cost of living—says workers can be paid. This out-of-date law undervalues the hard work of too many people. Nobody working a 40 hour week should live in poverty,” said Governor John Baldacci. “We hope this dinner will help generate support for a statewide minimum wage increase.”

    An Alliance for a Just Society estimates that $15.82 an hour would be a livable wage. 

    Mainers for Fair Wages, a coalition including the Maine People's Alliance, Maine Small Business Coalition, and Maine AFL-CIO, launched a successful petition process for a citizen initiative to raise Maine's minimum wage in June of 2015. The initiative will be on the ballot this November. If passed it would increase the minimum wage to $9 per hour in 2017 and then by $1 a year until it reaches $12 by 2020. After that the wage would increase at the same rate as the cost of living. The initiative would also incrementally raise the sub-minimum tipped wage until it matches the minimum wage for all other workers by 2024.

    Six months after the minimum wage in Seattle, Washington jumped to $11 an hour—on its way to $15—the restaurant industry has continued to boom, despite dire predictions.

    Raising the state minimum wage would directly affect more than 130,000 low-wage workers in Maine, most of them women and many of them are supporting families, according to calculations by the Economic Policy Institute.

    The EPI estimates that gradually increasing the wage to $12 per hour would give over 120,000 Maine workers—more than a fifth of the state’s workforce—a raise.

    EPI calculates a $12 minimum wage would mean: 

    • 60 percent of the workers who would be affected are women.
    • 85 percent are over the age of 20.
    • 75 percent work in service, sales, and office and administrative support occupations.
    • 75 percent work in: retail, education and health services, and leisure and hospitality.
    • 40,000 children have at least one parent who would get a raise from this change. 

    For years the Baldacci family ran an Italian restaurant in Bangor. Its last incarnation was Momma Baldacci’s and it became a meeting place known for its food, conversation, and community atmosphere. To highlight and help issues in the community and around the sate the Baldacci’s started charity spaghetti dinners.

    For more information please go RaiseMEwage.

  • USDA grants for Maine to remove health and safety hazards, make homes more energy efficient

    Photo left: Governor John Baldacci helps to weatherize a home in Augusta to help the elderly save heating costs in 2009. Photo by Ramona du Houx

    By Ramona du Houx 

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced October 28, 2015 that USDA is investing $3.7 million to help rural families repair and rehabilitate their homes.

    “At this critical time of the year as weather turns colder and many Mainers struggle to pay their heating bills, I am pleased that USDA Rural Development can provide funding to our partners that will help 30 Maine families in five counties weatherize and make repairs to their homes. This helps them to preserve what is often their most valuable asset and provide a safe, warm home for their families,” said USDA Rural Development Maine State Director Virginia Manuel.

    Under the Baldacci administration programs were put into action to help weatherization improvements. Bonds, grants from the federal government and training programs were put into place. Funds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative were used through Efficiency Maine to help businesses and the elderly.


    Governor John Baldacci also created bonds to help research and development of alternative energy technologies, as well as promoted the production of wood pellets from disused forested trees.


    During the recession Baldacci started the Weatherization core, based on F. D. Roosevelt’s conservation core, to help low income and elderly Mainers with weatherization improvements.


    Governor Baldacci saw that creating these initiatives would save the people of Maine thousands of dollars they would have wasted in heating costs, as well as grew the economy with new jobs. As Maine's building stock is over 85 percent of older homes these jobs would reach far into the future.


    Unfortunately, Governor Paul LePage has a different plan. He wishes to use protected forestland for fuel for low income Mainers and until he gets his way he refuses to release over $11 million in voter-approved bonds for land conservation.


    Many of Baldacci's initiatives received funds from the USDA, and the Department of Energy under the Obama administration.


    The funds announced by Secretary Vilsack are being awarded through the Housing Preservation Grant (HPG) program in 46 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to support the renovation of 1,147 units.  

       "Many low-income families in rural areas struggle to afford necessary housing upkeep," said Secretary Vilsack. "This USDA program provides grants for repairs not only to ensure that properties are in compliance with health and safety codes, but also to help people lower their maintenance costs through energy efficiency and weatherization improvements. All of these efforts make sure rural folks can stay in their homes.”

    Where the USDA funds will be allocated: 

    • Western Maine Community Action, located in Wilton has been selected to receive a Housing Preservation Grant in the amount of $25,000. Funds will be used to rehabilitate and repair 10 homes for very low income households in Franklin County. Funds will be used in conjunction with weatherization, Central Heating Improvement, and other funding sources for anticipated leveraged funds totaling in excess of $109,000.


    • Penquis Community Action Program, located in Bangor, has been selected to receive a Housing Preservation Grant in the amount of $25,000. Rural Development funds will be used by Penquis CAP to assist 20 very low and low income households in Penobscot, Piscataquis, Knox, and Waldo counties.  The funds will be leveraged with approximately $230,800.00 in funding from MaineHousing, the Department of Economic and Community Development, and other weatherization programs.  

     Photo right: Governor John Baldacci at a school in Wilton talking about the pellet burner, funded in part by state government programs and the USDA grant, in 2009. Photo by Ramona du Houx

     USDA provides financing to such as local governments, public agencies, federally recognized Indian Tribes, non-profit organizations and faith-based and community groups.  These entities distribute the grants to individual homeowners as well as to owners of multi-family rental properties or cooperative dwellings who rent to low- and very-low-income residents.  

       Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has provided almost $47 million in Housing Preservation Grants that have leveraged more than $167 million to repair and rehabilitate 12,000 homes and apartments in rural communities.