Is Maine too generous in providing social services to its residents? Which government benefits should be increased or decreased?
There is waste and abuse in lots of government spending. However, a good policymaker cannot categorically declare that Maine is too generous with social services. Maine has worked to root out fraud and other abuses, and the legislature closely scrutinizes the budget every year, adjusting spending priorities after careful consideration of available resources and demand for those resources. We must ensure that limited public dollars go to most effectively benefit the least fortunate among us.
Do you support expanding or raising the sales tax to lower the state income tax? Why or why not?
Maine has examined several proposals to expand or raise the sales tax. I prefer not to raise the sales tax, especially since my district is so close to New Hampshire. However, expansion of the sales tax can be proposed in numerous ways, and it does not necessarily have to increase state revenues. There are pros and cons to every tax proposal. For instance, expansion of the sales tax base could help level out the inconsistency of state revenues year over year, but expansion could also disadvantage certain industries. I am not in favor of any one proposal at this time, but I think it is a good issue for the legislature to examine.
I support the rights and freedoms of responsible gunowners, especially the hunters in our state, but I also support universal background checks for firearm sales and would like to see this loophole closed.
While I like the idea of increasing the fairness of multiple-candidate elections, I am not convinced that ranked-choice voting is the solution. I think more research should be conducted before altering our system.
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?
Many states do not elect constitutional officers the way Maine does, but there is no evidence that Maines system needs to change. If any of those four offices were in need of reform, there might be some merit in examining other methodologies such as gubernatorial appointment.
Is the size of Maines Legislature appropriate? Should the pay for legislative service be increased?
There is merit in a discussion of reducing the number of legislators. In this day of digital outreach, elected officials are able to have wider contact with their districts. Our state has a high number of legislators for our population and a reduction would save our state money. That being said, Mainers like the accessibility of their elected officials, so it would be a difficult change.
The pay for legislative service need not be increased.
Would you support legislation or a ballot question to allow more casinos in Maine?
While I would be wary of any casino proposal, and I would maintain a high bar in accepting any more into Maine, I cannot say I would oppose casinos across the board. It is important that we consider where we develop casinos and how many we allow. It is also important to consider much money our state can gain in return.
What is the biggest barrier to economic development in Maine and what can the Legislature do to address it?
This is a very complex issue with several components to an ongoing solution. In order to attract new industries and raise incomes, Maine must invest in our infrastructure and workforce development. Members of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce cite a lack of skilled workers as their largest barrier to growth. We have opportunities underway to invest in workforce development in our community college system. In addition, studies have shown that Maine ranks among the lowest in the nation in internet download speeds. An investment in broadband is a huge opportunity for growth in 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?
Immigration is one of many pieces to the puzzle of growing a robust population. It is also important that we pursue policies to attract and retain skilled and educated young people. We must keep looking for ways to raise earning capacity while enhancing Maines overall quality of life.
What is the most pressing issue in Maine these questions have not addressed?
Our pristine natural resources and access to the outdoors are a large part of Maine's brand and a continuing opportunity for economic growth. Investing in land conservation alongside smart development that protects our natural resources and maintains the character of our communities will ensure economic development while preserving what sets our state apart as a great place to live.