Conflicts of Interest on the Appropriations Committee?


Members of Maine’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs
Committee are among the most powerful people in State government.  This group of 13 individuals determines how
over $6 billion are spent by the State every two years.    


This afternoon I used to look up members of the
Appropriations Committee.  What I found
was a possible conflict of interest among two key members; Reps. Emily Cain
(D-Orono), who serves as the House Chair of the Committee, and John Martin
(D-Eagle Lake), who has served in the legislature for over 40 years.

According to data, both these politicians receive salaries
and benefits from the University of Maine system.  In pay year 2007, Rep. Cain, Coordinator of
Advancement for U Maine, earned $29,994 in wages and benefits, while Rep.
Martin, Executive Assistant to the President at the University of Maine at Fort
Kent, earned a combined $71,867 in wages and benefits.

As members of the Appropriation Committee, these two play a
major role in taxpayer funding of higher education in Maine.  In fiscal year 2008, higher education comprised
8.36 percent of the $6.2 billion general fund budget–the fourth largest state
expenditure.  Yikes!

Should two individuals whose bread is buttered by the
University of Maine be in a position to direct over $518 million to higher
education; the very hand that feeds them? 
I don’t think so either…