Is Maine too generous in providing social services to its residents? Which government benefits should be increased or decreased?
There will always be unmet needs but a fiscal inability to meet them. Right now we need to address needs for the disabled. Beyond that we need better manage our understanding of balancing all state program services and reasonable revenue sources to avoid the usual political push/pull.
Do you support expanding or raising the sales tax to lower the state income tax? Why or why not?
Proponents in favor of lowering the income tax completely for higher income tax earners have not yet made their case. If we are to broaden sales tax, we must offset its harsher impact upon lower income earners.
With the school funding formula in place, this measure has no benefit for two thirds of District 4 while still imposing the tax upon higher income families and spending the money elsewhere in the State.
The initiative advocates are selling snake oil in the benefits that they describe while down playing negative aspects elsewhere. Too few of the opponents have brought up significant constitutional issues and other defects that will arise from its adoption.
What is the biggest barrier to economic development in Maine and what can the Legislature do to address it?
There is no magic pill to solve the combination of factors limiting economic growth. We do not do enough to educate all levels of our high school graduate population. We place significant barriers in front of licensed professionals from other states to get licensing in Maine. Our lower pay wages compel too many of our brightest young people to seek higher income employment elsewhere. Our negative tax structure also impedes business as well as wage earners. These are several of many limitations frustrating healthy growth in our economy.
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?
See my answer to question 14, above. How can bringing in people lacking higher job skills assist in an economy where we are discouraging business expansion with commensurate expansion of skilled workers?
What is the most pressing issue in Maine these questions have not addressed?
The emphasis upon the state level in these questions did not address the local level and its responsibility in doing much beyond limiting residential growth to avoid costly school expansion. I fought dismantlement of the State Planning Office in 2011-2012 and believe the State should have instead used that agency to provide direction to municipalities to expand local and small businesses which are still the life blood of this State's economy.