Rep. Loring: Tribal-state relations in Maine
"Several recent articles have suggested the Legislature's Judiciary Committee is to blame for the breakdown in tribal-state relations. The breakdown has been blamed on the committee's reduction in funding for the Maine Indian-Tribal State Commission and the failure to support LD 2221, a tribal work study group bill.

I have been a member of the Judiciary Committee for almost nine years. It is my feeling that the breakdown was fueled to a large extent by the aggressive and overbearing manner in which MITSC leadership has operated. It has served to alienate the Judiciary Committee, tribal chiefs, legislative leadership and commissioners.

MITSC came before the committee with a request to increase its budget at a time when all other departments were being asked to cut programs and services during the first round of cuts to address the first $99 million budget shortfall. The most glaring item in the proposed budget was a line item that would pay the MITSC executive director $91,786 for FY08 plus $2,500 for travel.

MITSC justified its request by saying it had expanded its duties. The committee felt that this expansion came at a bad time for economic reasons and that MITSC was taking on duties over and above its mission. The committee refused to grant the requested increase.

MITSC went to the governor who agreed to give the requested increase of $38,000. MITSC’s end run around the Judiciary Committee’s decision was a breech of legislative process. That, in and of itself, would be reason to kill a bill. Still, the increase of $38,000 then showed up in their budget during the second round of cuts when funding was not just being cut, but programs and services were being totally eliminated. "

Get the Story:
Penobscot Nation Rep. Donna Loring: Blame tribal-state breakdown on commission leaders (The Bangor Daily News 7/28)

Related Stories:
Funding restored to Maine tribal commission (7/22)

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