Maine Teachers Sound Off Against Proposed Budget 

Retired school teacher Nina Hansen calls governor Paul LePage’s proposed budget a betrayal to the teaching community.Hansen says she struggles to pay her bills and maintain her dignity with a modest pension that is only about 14-hundred dollars a month.”I worked very hard all those years to maintain a home and now I’ll have to leave it,” she said.Hansen traveled to Augusta from Bangor. She was one of many teachers who went to the State House to voice their concerns to the Appropriations Committee over the Governor’s budget plan.Belfast teacher Diana Leighton says it puts pensions and health insurance in danger.”Please defend the teachers with their retirement and health insurance many of us have dedicated our lives to this profession and to our students and we deserve the retirement we have been promised,” she said.The Governor’s plan would freeze cost-of-living increases for state workers’ and teachers’ pensions for three years, impose a two percent cap on future increases and raise the amount employees contribute to the retirement system by 2-percent.”I feel that it is extremely unfair to ask teachers to pay an additional 2-percent into a system in which we will never see returned,” Leighton said.Governor LePage released a statement saying he knows teachers and retirees are struggling, but says Maine needs honest and shared solutions to solve the pension problem.State Finance Commissioner Sawin Millet calls the cuts “painful” but says the goal of the budget is to honor their commitment to Maine teachers and state employees while looking to the future.”We’re not approaching this as to who to blame for the 4.4 billion dollar budget gap, we’re trying to approach this from a point of view can we afford to continue to honor our promise with a define benefit retirement plan for teachers and state employees,” he said.