Is Maine too generous in providing social services to its residents? Which government benefits should be increased or decreased?
Maine is not too generous. We do need to make the unemployed work for their benefits, even if it is community service or unpleasant jobs. We need to be providing a minimum threshold of support for those who work, but still earn under poverty levels.
We need to continue our efforts to help able-bodied people get OFF welfare as quickly as possible and transition to work. As unemployment drops, this should be easier to do. People who legitimately need help should get it, but our well-intentioned efforts have too often created a culture of dependency. I am proud to have helped develop TANF limitations and have introduced legislation to prevent food stamps being used for junk food purchases.
Do you support expanding or raising the sales tax to lower the state income tax? Why or why not?
I do not support lowering or eliminating the state income tax. I want to restore state revenue sharing with municipalities and school districts which have been cut to the bone. I support expanding and raising the sales tax to increase revenue sharing as well as used to pay for state-wide financed universal health insurance..
School districts need the money and poor property owners cannot afford to continue being the sole revenue source. The state needs to spend what it has promised from the past at a minimum. State-wide universal health insurance will also take off some of the burdens of school districts when employees are forced to pay for their own health insurance through payroll and sales taxes.
I do not think that raising the minimum is the best answer. Workers their dependents need to have some sort of support system to be able to afford the bare minimum of needs in order to live. But for now, raising the minimum wage should be used to support the working poor until we find a better way.
As citizens we deserve to have elected leaders that have a majority behind them. If this system can expand the ballot choices while still determining a majority or very large minority vote (45% or more) then it will work well. Some are concerned about the time may take to count votes, but there is no need to hurry when accuracy is the priority. If it doesn't work after a few elections, we can change it back or differently.
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?
Keep the Legislature the elector of constitutional officers except for Governor. I would be in favor of the Governor appointing said officers and having a veto over the election process. But these positions need specialists who are very qualified and well trained. This should not be left up to a statewide popular vote who cannot fairly determine who is best for a position.
Is the size of Maines Legislature appropriate? Should the pay for legislative service be increased?
The Senate size is adequate for the state. I prefer to keep the House at the same size as I believe a small district better serves the citizen than a larger one. But, if the House is to be reduced, I would lower it to 101 members. The pay should be increased to $20,000 to $24,000 for members based on the length of time spent in the chamber. As of now, a legislator is a burden to an employer, needing to take off as much as half a year to serve. The current system favors the independently wealthy, the self-employed or the retiree at the expense of having a true ordinary citizen representing the needs and wishes of their constituents.
I don't think pay should be increased but I do believe our legislature is much too large for the 21st century with our instant communications. Our 151 member House is the 6th largest in the entire country!
Would you support sanctioning another elected official if he or she made public comments or statements that were considered racist, offensive or prejudicial?
Yes, absolutely. I would do it regardless of political party or office. An elected official is elected to represent ALL people of Maine, not just a favored group. No citizen should expect or tolerate an elected official who, through prejudicial statements, declares that a citizen does not have the respect that all other citizens expect. If the elected official is ready to make a public apology and is ready to explain why they thought it was okay to make such an offensive statement or act. An official who repeatedly does this should either resign or expected to be removed from office.
Would you support legislation or a ballot question to allow more casinos in Maine?
I support a local ballot question to allow another casino in a region of Maine, but after it has received support from the Legislature. I think a local ballot question should be used to petition the Legislature for a casino approval.
What is the biggest barrier to economic development in Maine and what can the Legislature do to address it?
I believe the biggest economic barrier to development is the combination of high property taxes, too much emphasis on drawing a large single out-of-state employer while ignoring the local entrepreneur and inventor, lack of financial investment money, and no state-wide tax-funded health insurance. Property taxes take too much money from employers who try to expand their facilities. Property taxes are eaten up by municipal wages, particularly over health insurance. A tax-financed universal system will take the burden of providing employees with health insurance off of the shoulders of an employer (including governments), thus lowering an employer's expenses (a smaller bottom line means more profits and a lowered price on a produced unit). All Maine citizens then pay a health insurance tax which should be lower than when they were paying for private insurance premiums. This will make Maine more attractive to those who want to move their business to the state or take the burden off the back of an entrepreneur when considering going into business.
The state should count stock investments as income and raise the income tax rate while offering rebates to those who invest in a certified Maine business (to make up for the investor who will never get repaid).
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?
Encourage future inventors and entrepreneurs in our state who are currently in school. Develop a certified Maine business program so that local investors will be willing to give money to develop and grow a business while never expecting to be repaid. Encourage people to bring their business to Maine, touting the benefits of quality of life in this state. Having universal health insurance will also encourage those who depend health care services the reassurance that they can get it in Maine without fear of not being able to afford it.
See above--that is our biggest problem and I agree with these economists. Some positive steps should include: (1) Increasing English as a second language course access, (2) training more ESL teachers, (3) replicating Portland's successful Welcome Center in other locations to help integrate New Mainers into the community, and (4) helping new arrivals to translate their foreign degrees and vocational skills into Maine credentials. I think we should start the process with a new Cabinet Level Office for New Mainers.