Yes. I support programs that give a hand up rather than a hand out. Such as WIC, short-term housing assistance and educational programming that lead to a job. Maine's unemployment is down and we should assist in getting people to work and gain independence.
Do you support expanding or raising the sales tax to lower the state income tax? Why or why not?
I have talked to thousands of voters in my district. In all the conversations that I have had, it is very rare that someone says the income tax or the sales tax is troubling them. Folks are overwhelming feeling the pinch when their property tax bills arrive. Moving the sales tax up and the income tax down is absolutely irrelevant unless we intend to use revenue generated from one or the other to help off-set property taxes. I am encouraged by a referendum on this November's ballot that will increase the income tax by 3 percent on individual earners making $200,000 or more annually. The revenue generated from this will be directed to education and it will relieve towns and cities like Biddeford from shifting the cost of education onto property taxpayers.
Yes. If you can afford to shop, especially for toys and luxury items, you can afford the tax. If you have more income, you will be able to shop more and therefore contribute to taxes in that manner. Your income should be yours to do with what you choose, spend or save. Ideally, I would prefer neither tax.
We are in the top third of states in spending on education, but we are near the bottom is teacher compensation. It is not that we need to spend more money; it is that we need to put the money in the right place. We waste so much money on regulations and administration and although this referendum is supposed to go to the students, it is very vague and misleading. This tax will hurt our economy with no guarantees it will help education.
A great economy will drive wages up and not put unreasonable restraints on businesses that cannot afford to pay such high wages. Dunkin Donuts in my town is advertising openings with a starting pay of $10/hr.
Should Maine prioritize law enforcement efforts to intercept drug traffickers over expanding access to substance abuse treatment, such those that incorporates medications like methadone and Suboxone?
The role of law enforcement and the role of substance abuse treatment are equally important to solving the drug crisis. Prioritizing one over the other would create an imbalance and only prolong the issue. We need law enforcement and treatment centers communicating with one another. We need law enforcement's steadfast approach to holding traffickers accountable. And we need those addicted to these horrific drugs to have access to treatment programs that recognize addiction is an issue requiring long-term solutions and above all else: patience.
Yes. Enforcement of tough laws keeps drug traffickers away. We need to expand treatment but not with more medications (drugs). We will never win the war on drugs with more drugs. Prescription drugs are what drove this level of substance abuse. We need readily available, long term, peer-to-peer treatment. This is what really works. A recovering addict can be the most help, because they know this addiction best.
Should Maines constitutional officers -- the secretary of state, the attorney general, auditor and the treasurer -- continue to be elected by the Legislature or by statewide popular vote?
They should continue to be elected by the legislature. Any change would inherently lead to the politicization of these offices and invite the influence of money into more institutions of our government.
Is the size of Maines Legislature appropriate? Should the pay for legislative service be increased?
I think the size of the legislature is too big in terms of people residing in the state. Unfortunately, the size of the state is quite large and that makes the first part of this question difficult to answer. I have a great deal of respect for legislators from rural parts of Maine. I think it would hinder their ability to do their job effectively if their constituents were spread throughout larger swaths of land.
With that being said, the pay for legislative service is much too low. Listen, I was elected knowing this in 2014 and I am not looking to make a living through this position. But our ability to be thorough and meet the needs of our constituents is significantly strained when we must hold down another job in order to make a living and provide for our families.
Would you support sanctioning another elected official if he or she made public comments or statements that were considered racist, offensive or prejudicial?
I would support impeachment measures against Governor Paul LePage for his incendiary comments and complete disregard for the best interest of our state and its citizens. If state government were truly like a business as he so wished it were, he would be either fired on the spot or held to some sort of disciplinary action.
Yes. No union should have the right to demand union dues. Our teachers should be allowed to join the union if they so wish, however, if they choose not to join the union they should not be forced to pay union dues as they are now.
Would you support legislation or a ballot question to allow more casinos in Maine?
I will not support any legislation or ballot measure concerning casinos until Maine's tribes are given their due and respect. They have time and time again brought forward proposals and had them denied. In my opinion, it is unacceptable.
What is the biggest barrier to economic development in Maine and what can the Legislature do to address it?
We need a skilled workforce. I submitted legislation for a $25 million bond to fund new equipment and building improvements at Maine's 27 career and technical education (CTE) schools last session. It was tabled and never received a vote. I am committed to seeing this bill passed in the 128th Legislature. We know a liberal arts college education is not for everyone. We must fund these vocational schools in order provide young people with the skills they need to become successful plumbers, mechanics, nurses, architects, engineers, early-childhood educators, electricians, automotive mechanics, and much more. We need to train our workforce; otherwise, the skilled jobs shortage will grow wider and deeper.
We need a skilled and dedicated workforce. This can only be solved with a great education, starting in Kindergarten. We must work hard to raise the bar on education and expose children at an early age to the possibilities offered in this new global economy. Students should be ready at the end of High School to progress to college or have great career skills. A skilled workforce will bring more companies to Maine.
Census data show Maines population is aging and decreasing, with some economists suggesting that immigration is the best way to reverse those trends. What should the state do to address this demographic trend?
The most important issues impacting our state and Biddeford are not often discussed at the same time, but they ought to be. We need more young people in Maine and we need to support aging Mainers who just want to enjoy a comfortable retirement. How are young people and Maine's senior related? It is simple. If we continue to lose young Mainers to neighboring states, our state cannot make the investments needed in senior housing, prescription drug assistance, home heating oil assistance, and keeping property taxes low. In order to keep or attract young people, Maine needs 21st Century jobs with livable wages. Attracting these jobs will require investment in high-speed internet access, more low-cost renewable energy options, and improved public transportation. In addition, we need to train young people for skilled labor; otherwise, there will not be enough people to build and maintain business infrastructure in this state.
What is the most pressing issue in Maine these questions have not addressed?
It has to be holding our tax dollars accountable. It did not receive the prolonged discourse that other issues have but just last year a significant abuse of tax dollars was exposed. The Portland Press Herald discovered shrewd out-of-state investors scammed taxpayers for over $34 million in tax credits meant to spur business development. I stepped up alongside colleagues and stopped the fraud from ever occurring again within this program. Not a single penny of the $34 million was invested in Maine and it will never be seen again.
This is troubling. I support programs designed to provide incentive for investment, development, and entrepreneurship in Maine. But these programs ought to be reviewed for effectiveness and return on investment. Guess what? They aren't. And for the last two years, I watched my Republican colleagues prevent bills designed to review tax credit effectiveness from receiving passage. Taxpayers deserve accountability and it could not be any more evident than when out-of-state investors steal $34 million from us--just like that.
Maine would be a better place if we were free from invasive government regulations and bureaucrats. We need to streamline our government agencies and lessen regulations that keep our economy from growing. If someone fails to do their job, they should be held accountable. Today we write a new law or regulation every time someone fails to do what he or she is supposed to. The oversight becomes more work for everyone and this cycle continues to a burdensome level. Efficient, reasonably sized government agencies are what we need in Maine.