Race for Maine Senate District 13

in the 2014 General Election

Leslie T. Fossel

Leslie T. Fossel

9,122 (49.18%)

Republican - Alna

Candidate profile


Total raised: $22,465
Types of contributions
Monetary donations: $22,450
Maine Clean Elections money: $0
Candidate self-financing: $15
Loans: $0
In-kind donations: $0
Fossel raised 89.58% of the amount Johnson raised.
Donations from inside Maine vs. out-of-state
Donations from inside Maine (excludes self-financing): $17,450
Donations from outside Maine: $5,000
Maine Clean Elections money: $0
Candidate self-financing: $15
Fossel raised 89.58% of the amount Johnson raised.
Christopher K. Johnson

Christopher K. Johnson

9,427 (50.82%)

Democratic - Somerville

Candidate profile


Total raised: $25,078
Types of contributions
Monetary donations: $1,500
Maine Clean Elections money: $23,578
Candidate self-financing: $0
Loans: $0
In-kind donations: $0
Donations from inside Maine vs. out-of-state
Donations from inside Maine (excludes self-financing): $1,500
Donations from outside Maine: $0
Maine Clean Elections money: $23,578
Candidate self-financing: $0
Correction: An earlier version of this graph incorrectly noted Maine Clean Elections money as from out-of-state.

Is Maine too generous in providing social services to its residents? Which government benefits should be increased or decreased?

Fossel
Yes We focus on the wrong things. The low income frail elderly should be a much higher priority. We focus on the wrong things. The low income frail elderly should be a much higher priority.

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Johnson
No We must make them more effective, and cost effective, in providing opportunities for people to get out of poverty and no longer need help. It’s time to apply a few quality principles to examining the effectiveness of our safety net programs. Outcomes matter. We do need to stop misspending of benefit dollars and turn people toward productive use of those benefits for their families. I believe an Inspector General will effectively address waste within DHHS programs. And I voted for bills that would do so. We must also re-align how programs work together, remove the roadblocks that hold people back, and create opportunity for people to get out of poverty and improve their lives. And that will be the best measure of effectiveness.

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Do you support lowering the state income tax? If so, what state spending would you cut to make up for the loss of revenue?

Fossel
No We need to reform our tax structure, but we cannot lower taxes without lowering spending. We need to reform our tax structure, but we cannot lower taxes without lowering spending.

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Johnson
No We can’t cut the income tax on the backs of working families and property taxpayers. We need tax fairness and we need to close loopholes. We all like lower taxes, but Mainers also want the education, public safety, roads, and other services. In fact we voted for State funding of 55% of K-12 education and 100% of special education costs. What does need to be fixed is tax fairness, and remove loopholes which favor the millionaires and corporate giants. Based on the most recent figures available from the Maine Revenue Service, the poorest fifth of Mainers pay 17% of their income in state and local taxes; for the middle class it is under 13%, and the wealthiest 1% of Mainers pay just under 10% of their income in state and local taxes. There is nothing fair about that, and lowering the most progressive tax - income tax - would only make the system even more unfair.

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Should labor unions be allowed to require workers to pay dues as a condition of employment, regardless of whether the worker joins the union?

Fossel
Yes Only if there is an outside audit on their expenses so the money is used effectively for employment related purposes only. Only if there is an outside audit on their expenses so the money is used effectively for employment related purposes only.

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Johnson
Yes When workers organize and vote to unionize, the union negotiates and represents all workers. The result is a fairer contract for all workers When workers organize and vote to unionize, then the union negotiates and represents workers. In fact the union is obligated under federal law to represent all workers - union members and non-union workers. Just as members of a community vote on a town budget, thereby obligating each other to raise those revenues, workers voting to be represented obligate each other to pay for that representation. The sanctity of a contract is one of the strongest principles of a free market economy. Weakening that creates a race to the bottom that would hurt workers in Maine.

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Would you vote to expand Medicaid eligibility as allowed by the Affordable Care Act?

Fossel
Yes Only as a part of a package to reduce the cost of health care. Only as a part of a package to reduce the cost of health care.

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Johnson
Yes Health care for 70,000 Mainers including 3000 veterans. Create 4000 jobs, reduce hospital charity care, supported by hospitals and doctors. It’s the right thing to do for 70,000 Maine people, including 3000 veterans. In Maine we need to accept the roughly $250 million per year in federal funding into Maine’s economy to provide medicaid coverage (MaineCare) to people who currently cannot afford it. This too would bring 4000 good paying jobs, reduce hospital charity care costs and is a policy supported by our local hospitals and doctors because it makes preventive care available. Overall, turning away coverage has made our population less healthy, and shifted more of the cost of treatment eventually received onto hospitals, insurance rates, and thus shifted costs onto the rest of Mainers. Maine is the only New England state that did not expand. The other states, including New Hampshire, understood that it is a winning issue. It’s the right decision for Maine people’s health, for our economy, for jobs, and one positive step toward controlling healthcare costs. Which is why I will continue to work and to vote for doing so.

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What is the biggest thing Maine can do to attract more jobs to the state?

Fossel
Improve infrastructure, lower the costs of doing business, simplify regulation. Improve infrastructure, lower the costs of doing business, simplify regulation.

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Johnson
Build on Maine’s natural advantages. Help small businesses and natural resource sectors achieve healthy growth. Strengthen public education. We’ve made good strides in career education, training and workplace readiness through LD 90. That’s a good start. There are many other ways we can and should encourage job growth and a stronger economy. Maine has lots of opportunity. With a willing governor we will once again invest in R&D like other New England states, put people to work fixing crumbling bridges and infrastructure, and build on Maine’s natural advantages in agriculture and fishing, boat building, arts and craftsmanship. Farming is actually expanding again after decades of decline, and young people are taking up farming. Local foods are in demand, yet one in 5 children experience food insecurity, and farmers struggle to make a living. It’s time we helped farmers to earn a good living AND expand agriculture in Maine. Maine must also encourage our green renewable energy industry. A recent study commissioned by the Maine Technology Institute showed that encouraging that sector would be very positive for jobs and the economy. And we need the jobs and economic boost of accepting Federal dollars to provide health care coverage to individuals and families who are currently uninsured. There is much still to be done, realizing our opportunities to strengthen Maine’s economy in ways compatible with our natural advantages. But we have to succeed so our people and communities can thrive again.

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Should Maine legalize, tax and regulate recreational marijuana? If so, where should the revenues go?

Fossel
No Not until we have more experience from states that have already legalized marijuana. Not until we have more experience from states that have already legalized marijuana.

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Johnson
No Recreational use needs to be legalized at the federal level. And when it is, it will need appropriate regulation. Recreational use needs to be legalized at the federal level, avoiding significant legal jeopardies for consumers and producers. And when it is, it will need appropriate regulation that gets a handle on dosing, what constitutes intoxication, and avoiding the health hazards of smoking. If recreational marijuana does become legal in Maine, revenues should go to the general fund in the state budget.

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Should the governor be allowed to delay the sale of general obligation bonds that have been approved by voters?

Fossel
Yes For appropriate reasons only that have clear benefit to the people of Maine. For only appropriate reasons that have clear benefit to the people of Maine.

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Johnson
No Absent significant cost advantages, a governor should not delay what voters approve. While constitutional, it IS defying the will of voters. It is wrong for a governor to delay sale of general obligation bonds that have been approved by voters except for important fiscal reasons such as imminent expectation of lower bond pricing. To do so would be morally and ethically wrong to deny the will of the voters. Under our constitution’s separation of powers the responsibility to approve the sale of general obligation bonds rests with the executive branch. So does the ethical responsibility to carry out that duty in accordance with the will of voters.

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What should the state do to lower energy costs? What commitment should Maine make to renewable technology?

Fossel
Focus on efficiency in areas that are low cost and have a short term payback and clearly do not have adverse impacts. Focus on efficiency in areas that are low cost and have a short term payback and clearly do not have adverse impacts.

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Johnson
Help more homeowners and businesses improve their energy efficiency. Set stronger renewable energy generation goals to stabilize pricing. Maine’s electricity rates are the lowest in New England. But Mainers still are struggling to afford the cost of heating their homes in the winter. But that doesn’t change the fact that the average Maine household spends around 15% of their income on energy costs, between heating their home, fuel in their vehicle, and electricity. Some households spend much more, and others less. And almost 80 percent of our total energy use comes from fossil fuels, from outside Maine. Every dollar we spend on fossil fuel based energy is a dollar leaving Maine’s economy. Green energy jobs, in generation and in improving energy efficiency, are a good growth sector. That’s supported by a study commissioned by the Maine Technology Institute. A dollar spent on energy conservation or Maine renewable generation is invested in the local economy, and invested in lowering or stabilizing energy costs. Nearly 1,600 businesses participated in Efficiency Maine’s Business Incentive Program last year, saving an estimated $61 million over the lifetime of equipment installed. And a growing number of homeowners took advantage of Efficiency Maine help with heating system conversions, weatherization, or other ways to reduce their energy costs. Massachusetts has set a goal of 1.6 gigawatts of solar generation by 2020. They provide tax credits for renewable energy generation that encourage homeowners and others to meet that goal. That has created 8700 jobs since the standard was set. Here in Maine, where energy spending is a large drain on our economy, and where forest, agriculture and marine resources are threatened by the effects of our nation’s non-renewable energy pollution, we should set stronger renewable energy goals as well. It’s the right thing to do for our jobs, for our household budgets, for our economy, and for all of us dependent upon the future of our natural resources.

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Should lawmakers make it a priority — even if it means raising taxes — to fulfill the voters' mandate to have the state fund 55 percent of the total cost of K-12 public education?

Fossel
Yes Only if we contain the cost of education. We cannot continue to rank 8th in per student spending and 37th in per capita income. Only if we contain the cost of education. We cannot continue to rank 8th in per student spending and 37th in per capita income.

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Johnson
Yes Voters approved, so the legislature must plan how to implement it. That would reduce the need for property taxes, a welcome change for many. Maine needs to fund a larger share of public education. That alone would reduce the cost of property taxes, which are highly regressive. To pay the 55% of education cost would undoubtedly require adjusting state spending priorities. Fortunately OPEGA is currently conducting an independent review of a portion of the tax spending programs (loopholes and tax breaks). That will inform the Taxation Committee in the next legislature about what each program’s cost is compared to its benefits to Maine people. In the long run, investing more in quality early childhood programs and pre-K education can drive down costs significantly, more than breaking even on the initial costs before before the student reaches age 14, as stated by UMaine economic professor Philip Trostel. In his report “Path to a Better Future: The Fiscal Payoff of Investment in Early Childhood Development in Maine,” Trostel says providing quality preschool education for one low-income child saves taxpayers an average of $99,200 during the course of that child’s life in Maine. With approximately one quarter of Maine children under age five living in poverty, that means a huge future cost reduction potential. Those savings make sense. As the children benefiting from those programs progress through the school system, they will need less special education, less remedial education, will be less likely to drop out of school, and more likely to get a good earning job, stay out of prison, and more likely to support themselves and their families without assistance - contributing more and having lower social costs.

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Should Maine have more charter schools?

Fossel
Yes Only after we have enough information to reasonably judge whether the existing charter schools are working well. Only after we have enough information to reasonably judge whether the existing charter schools are working well.

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Johnson
No Maine children all deserve a robust public education. Taking charter school tuition away from public school budgets undermines that. Maine’s charter schools have not yet proven that they are working well and up to the state standards of our public schools. However the financial drain on public schools and the loss of efficiencies of scale for sending school districts has been very clear and troubling. These issues must be addressed before Maine moves any further on charter schools. In addition, no public education dollars should go to a for-profit charter school.

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