Is Maine too generous in providing social services to its residents? Which government benefits should be increased or decreased?
I believe the focus should be on making sure the most needy among us are receiving assistance. When there are limited financial resources available, it is of the utmost importance that a safety net is available to help our elderly, those with disabilities, and struggling families who have come upon hard times. I was pleased that in my first term we were able to pass meaningful welfare reform, which helps ensure the safety net will be available to those in need when they need it the most.
Do you support expanding or raising the sales tax to lower the state income tax? Why or why not?
We need to be lowering taxes for Maine families, not looking to raise them. I believe we need to focus on increasing efficiency within state government so we may find opportunities to reduce spending and live within our means as a state. When we reduce state spending, we can put that money back into the pockets of Maine families.
I have spent my career as a DARE officer educating our youth about the dangers of drugs, and I have seen firsthand the devastating effects drugs have on families. I cannot support the legalization efforts.
It is my understanding that the majority of the money raised by this new tax will be given to the largest school districts, such as Portland, with some of Maines more rural districts receiving little to no money. I also have concerns about whether the money will actually get into the classrooms where it is needed most. We have made great progress in lowering taxes during the last few years, and I feel this would be a step backwards.
Many business owners in my district have spoken to me of their serious concerns about this proposal and the negative effect it may have on their business. A sharp increase in costs could really have devastating effects on a small business. I feel businesses will have no choice but to pass this increase on to consumers, which will especially hurt our seniors living on fixed incomes. In the Senate, I was pleased to support a more reasonable wage increase. I believe this proposal goes too far at this time.
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?
I believe we need a comprehensive approach that includes increased efforts to intercept and deter the efforts of drug traffickers, along with access to substance abuse treatment, as well as a focus on educating our youth about the dangers of drugs. I was the sponsor of a new law that increased the class of crime for drug trafficking, and Im proud that it passed with bipartisan support. It is important that we send a firm message to those who plan to bring dangerous drugs into Maine that our state takes that offense seriously. I also supported President Thibodeaus legislation which provided funding for law enforcement, treatment, and drug education. I believe the Legislature sent a strong message this past session that we are going to fight this drug epidemic.
Is the size of Maines Legislature appropriate? Should the pay for legislative service be increased?
I believe the current size is appropriate. While I would not be supportive of a drastic increase in pay for legislators, I would consider a smaller and possibly incremental increase. Legislators earn less than $12,000 a year for their service. It can be hard to convince people to serve given how much they will be compensated for the long hours they will need to put in at the State House. We should encourage the best and brightest to serve in elected office, but they also need to make ends meet at home. I know many of my colleagues work full-time and part-time jobs to support their families.
Would you support a so-called right to work law in Maine?
No. I believe a right to work law could cause a conflict. If an individual chooses not to join, they will still be represented by the union for pay and for initial protection of rights. They just pay a minimal fee for that, not the full dues.
Would you support legislation or a ballot question to allow more casinos in Maine?
While I see the positives of business expansion and job creation, I would need to review each proposal on a case by case basis to see if Maine would benefit from an expansion. We stopped Keno from coming into this state, and I understand another form of gambling related to Keno has been mentioned.
What is the biggest barrier to economic development in Maine and what can the Legislature do to address it?
High energy costs are a big barrier to economic development in Maine. I believe the availability of natural gas should be expanded. We must look at all sources of energy, but the priority must be on what is most inexpensive for Maine families and businesses.
Another barrier, at least to folks in my district, is high property taxes. That is why I have been opposed to reductions in revenue sharing and supported increasing the homestead exemption.
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?
Maine is a great place to live and raise a family, but it can be tough to find a good paying job, especially in more rural areas of the state. We must make Maine more business friendly so we can compete with other states and attract jobs that will allow our young adults to make a great living and support their families. I believe we can do this by continuing our efforts to reduce the tax burden, along with addressing state regulations on businesses.
What is the most pressing issue in Maine these questions have not addressed?
One of the issues I plan to address, should voters send me back to the Augusta, is implementing graduated sentencing for violations of protection from abuse orders. Currently, an individual could violate a protection from abuse order multiple times with no increase in penalty. My bill, which I have submitted to our Revisor of Statutes, would increase the penalty for second and subsequent offenses. In my time working as a police officer, I encountered situations where an individual would continually violate protection orders. We need to take a firmer stance on this issue and send a signal that Maine takes these violations extremely seriously.