Do you support expanding or raising the sales tax to lower the state income tax? Why or why not?
Yes. The relationship between income tax rates and sales tax schedules should be examined with an intent to recalibrate their consequences on taxpayer burden and the proportions they represent in our anticipated revenue stream.
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?
Drug enforcement and substance abuse treatment should evaluated and funded as coordinated strategies. For too long they have been subject to parallel budget tracks that have placed an emphasis on law enforcement as the primary objective of our drug control policy. These two tracks must be merged into a unified approach in reducing the harm associated with drug abuse. Addiction is a process that has an adverse consequence on an addict's neurochemistry which cannot be addressed solely by personal desire and community support for long term sobriety. It is a disease that requires a plan of care that incorporates appropriate medication as a foundation in creating and sustaining a positive outcome for the addict.
What is the biggest barrier to economic development in Maine and what can the Legislature do to address it?
Legislatures do not create jobs but we can invest in rebuilding and expanding our physical infrastructure, Better roads, bridges, airports and waterfronts spur business investment. We should also commit to fully deploy a statewide digital network for the 21st century to promote a more rapid exchange of data and products.
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?
We should develop a comprehensive state immigration policy. Our goal should be to minimize barriers that hinder the assimilation of immigrant workers into our economy. We should give particular attention to business visa processing, conditional reciprocity for educational and professional certification, accelerated English language training and expanded apprentice training in technical fields as goals for moving the state forward in realizing a more inclusive Maine economy.
What is the most pressing issue in Maine these questions have not addressed?
As we consider our social expectations for an increasingly aging population, one trend we should pay attention to is the seismic shift in how we will be delivering core health care services in the decade ahead. Historically, the platform upon which most of our health care transactions have occurred has been in the public context of a hospital. However, the shift to home based health care is ascending at an increasing rate of growth and may eventually redefine our idea of a hospital and its role in responding to patient needs. Home health care raises key policy questions on who has access to, control over and responsibility for the health and fiscal well being of vulnerable individuals cared for and isolated, in a practical sense, from the broader community by the privacy shield that is their home.