Wednesday, February 12, 2014

With merit and pay increases frozen, Maine trooper says he feeds his family on roadkill

Government financial woes have become so bad in Maine that some state troopers have resorted to eating roadkill. That's what one said Monday during his testimony before the Legislature's budget-writing Appropriations Committee in support of a bill "that aims to restore about $6 million, over the current two-year budget cycle, to the state's general and transportation funds for the purpose of merit and longevity pay increases," which were frozen in 2013, Scott Thistle reports for the Maine Sun Journal. Maine has the largest percentage of rural population in the U.S.

Two state troopers testified, with one saying "he has even resorted to collecting roadkill to help feed his family of six, while another said that last week his children awoke to a cold house twice because they were unable to afford enough oil for their furnace," Thistle writes. One trooper said, "During the winter seasons, we often have to buy heating oil a few gallons at a time because we rarely can afford the minimal delivery amount. Due to the merit stoppage, this year, I had to sell my wife's engagement ring, military souvenirs from the war and other personal items just to make ends meet."

Both troopers testified "that their financial situations were a result of merit and longevity pay-increases that were put on hold in the previous budget cycle as a means to solve the state's budget shortfall," Thistle writes. One said his family relied on food stamps, the Medicaid for health coverage and that he had re-enlisted in the military reserve for the extra income.

Sen. Emily Cain (D-Orono) said, "Every single one of these individuals goes to work every day and does their very best and have not had any type of pay increase or even acknowledgement of how long they've been doing their job for five years. When you hear from state workers who are working at least 40 hours a week, and these are the same people who are qualifying for public assistance, that is simply not OK—it's wrong." (Read more)

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