I’d like to tell you a little story. Back in 1961, my parents bought a little strip of land on Unity Pond. It was 50 feet wide and the price was $3 a foot. They paid $150 for that little camp lot. The idea was to build a camp so that our family had a fun summer place to spend time. My dad was meticulous in his paperwork and arranged all his expenses into a file folder in building that camp over the next couple of years. After his death I came across that file folder. The total expenses for the land and the camp were $1,477.96.

My mom put the camp in my name a few years ago because of her age and not being able to take care of it anymore. In the last five years, the property taxes on the camp have gone up almost eightfold, going from $200 to more than $1,500. The taxes are now more each year than what my parents paid for the camp. This is for a summer residence that, at best, can be used for four months out of the year and receives absolutely no town services. It is up to the camp owners to even maintain the road. There are no children from this summer residence attending any local schools. The town told us the lake residences had to pay their fair share and that other residences would go down. Not so. The property taxes on my home, which is also in Unity, went up as well.

Does any of this seem fair? And why has this happened?

The answer is actually quite simple. But if you ask a politician they will tell you that it is complex and not easy for us civilians to understand. It is called General Purpose Aid, which is the money that comes from the state and supports our schools.

The state promised to fund 55 percent of our school budgets. This has never happened. A citizens’ initiative forced a referendum mandating that the state pay the 55 percent. The state still has not fulfilled its obligation. At best, it may have reached 52 percent or so. It is now down around 47 percent.

The second reason is called revenue-sharing. This money is to come from the state as well to help municipalities run local government. This money has been reduced drastically. Why? According to Maine’s Constitution, our state budget has to be balanced. So what our Legislature did was simply pass the costs back to the property owners of the state of Maine, and therefore our property taxes got raised.

Rep. John Piotti is in the leadership of the Democratic party in Augusta and is part of the budget negotiations; as such, he is partly responsible for our paying these higher taxes. Why? Because he can’t make the hard decisions that have to be made to make the budget cuts in Augusta that need to be made. They simply passed the costs on to us. It makes the Democrats look good that they can balance the budget, but at whose expense? Ours!

I have spoken to Rep. Mike Thibodeau about this issue at great length. He will do his best to keep this from happening anymore in Augusta.

Here’s another story.

I have a friend who is in the heating and plumbing business. One of his clients is a government-run assistance program. My friend was at a residence servicing and repairing a furnace at the government’s expense. He got to talking with the family that was living there and learned they were from Georgia. My friend asked the man, “What in the world are you doing here in the cold state of Maine?” His reply? (You’re not going to like this) “It’s easy to get on welfare up here. So I brought my family here.”

Mad yet? I am.

One good thing that President Clinton did while he was in office was to reform welfare. He took away the lifetime benefits to try to break the generations of people just living on it their whole lives. What did Maine do when this reform was passed? The progressive Democrats of this state decided to decouple from it. We do not abide by the federal rules. We do not have residency rules, nor are you limited on welfare.

Another important thing that Democratic Gov. [John] Baldacci did to this state was to make it a sanctuary state. Can you believe this? We welcome illegal immigrants into this state and will not deport them. Where is Rep. Piotti on this issue? He supports the Democrats.

Our Democrat-controlled Legislature in Augusta cannot make the hard decisions to stop this madness. After speaking with Rep. Mike Thibodeau about this issue, I have learned that he will do whatever it takes to stop this madness.

We can no longer afford these types of giveaway entitlement programs. The state is simply taking away from the hardworking people of this state and giving it to the people who don’t work. Everyone is in favor of helping anyone who truly needs assistance, and gladly does it without complaining, but our state has gone too far. We would never put anyone in peril, as Rep. Mike Thibodeau told me.

This state has had three referendums recently. The new soda tax, allowing gay marriage, and the 100-plus new sales taxes. Rep. John Piotti supported all three bills in the Legislature. The people had to force a public referendum to be able to vote on them. All three measures were defeated.

That puts Rep. Piotti on the wrong side of all these issues. Does he even listen to his constituents? Apparently not. During the gay marriage issue, Rep. Piotti even had the opportunity to allow a public vote on this issue rather than allow our progressive, Democrat-controlled Legislature to make it a law. He chose to vote to make it a law and force an expensive referendum on the state.

I communicated with Rep. Piotti about this issue, wanting to know his stance. He told me via e-mail that the gay marriage bill troubled him in many ways, but that he had not made up his mind yet. After he voted in favor of allowing gay marriage, he told a newspaper source that it was his proudest moment while serving in the Legislature. Does this sound like someone who had not made up his mind yet? I don’t think so.

Now I see where a mailer has been sent out to the voting public. The mailer is from the Equality Maine PAC (Political Action Committee). The mailer states how Rep. Piotti is a strong supporter of education. Does Equality Maine have anything to do with education? No! They are the group that is pushing to ram gay marriage down our throats. This flier is just a payback to Rep. Piotti for his gay marriage support. Period! They know they have his support in the future.

The Republican Party has become known as the party of “No.” Can you see why? It is all the progressive entitlement programs that the Democrats have been pushing onto the citizens of Maine that we cannot afford. We have reached tax saturation in this state.

Please, this year, boot the Democrats out of power. They have had it since 1974 and have slowly choked us. Vote Republican and let’s straighten out the mess in Augusta. The Republican Party stands for “No to higher taxes,” “No to the broadening of state government.” It’s “Yes to smaller government,” “Yes to less taxes,” “Yes to less regulation which inspires small businesses to hire more people.”

I am voting for Rep. Mike Thibodeau for state Senate representing Waldo County, Rep. Ryan Harmon for state representative representing western Waldo County, Paul LePage for governor and Jason Levesque for U.S. Congress. Please vote!

Mark Nickerson is a retired Maine State Police Trooper who lives in Unity. He writes the Real Life Stores from a Maine State Trooper column.