The problem with our welfare system is that it incentivizes outsiders to flock to Maine so they can take advantage of our benefits. I know a woman, a sickly cancer survivor on disability, who can barely afford rent let alone dentures to replace the teeth she lost from chemo. Meanwhile, a healthy, young Iranian refugee lived in Freeport while receiving state benefits before he went off to fight and die for ISIS in Syria. That's a gross injustice. We need to administer our social services in a way that puts the interests of Mainers first, not foreigners who haven't paid into the system.
As for whether I would increase or decrease certain benefits: I do believe we have to do more to fight child and elder poverty. But at the same time we must demand better of the able-bodied. If a young man fails at self-direction and wallows in his indolence, it is the duty of state government to demand better of him before he ends up as another heroin overdose. It's time to put the able-bodied back to work.
Do you support expanding or raising the sales tax to lower the state income tax? Why or why not?
No I do not support this proposal. Our current system ensures that everyone pays their fair share. The sales tax unfairly burdens the lowest income people in Maine. This is not sound tax policy for our state.
While I am sympathetic to those that desire taxing consumption over incomes, I still believe a progressive state income tax is the only way we'll be able to raise enough revenue to meet our budget goals. The best solution is a tax code that shifts a larger share of the tax burden onto out-of-state tourists - meals and lodging, tolls for out-of-state vehicles, etc. similar to the bi-partisan 2010 tax overhaul that failed at the June ballot that year.
I support a pathway to legalization, but this ballot question is flawed, particularly in terms of enforcement and taxes. I'm also troubled by the possibility of potent, candy-like edibles being marketed towards children. These ballot questions truly belong in the hands of the people's representatives in the legislature. Special interests have enough power without letting them abuse the referendum process to buy votes en masse. Direct democracy didn't work for ancient Athens and it won't work now.
The problem with our education system is a top-heavy administration. All this referendum does is raise taxes so we can keep overpaying a massive amount of superintendents. Governor Baldacci was right to try and consolidate the school districts during his tenure. We need to tackle the systemic problem of education spending before we start arbitrarily raising taxes on people who will likely move their wealth to Florida if this passes. We can do better than this hastily put-together band-aid solution.
Gun ownership is a civic virtue and a Maine tradition. Despite high levels of gun ownership throughout the state, we have much lower violent crime rates than say Chicago or New Orleans. This fact is a direct reflection on the character and quality of our people. Background checks laws are simply unnecessary in peaceful, culturally homogeneous states such as Maine.
Question 3 is a thinly-veiled attempt by Wall Street millionaires and billionaires to erode our gun rights. We can't allow these special interests to use their vast wealth to influence our state's political and cultural affairs. The referendum process needs reform so that this never happens again. The 2nd Amendment is non-negotiable in Maine.
Decades of outsourcing and mass immigration have left wages low and stagnant, while the gap between the richest and poorest has grown to historic levels. All of these problems can be traced to the failures of globalization. While I strongly support an increase in the state's minimum wage, I don't believe a ballot question is the way to do it. We need to make exceptions for certain businesses and industries, especially those that depend on low-skill or teenage workers. This issue belongs in the legislature, not a 'one-size fits all' referendum.
Opioid abusers need a strict regimen of 'tough-love' if they're to overcome their addiction. That means drying them out, not weaning them onto other substances. Ever since a recent drug-related murder in Biddeford, I keep hearing the phrase 'Law and Order' come up as I go door-to-door. I believe it's time to temporarily deploy the Maine National Guard's military police unit along our state borders to help identify and catch out-of-state heroin distributors before they're able to deliver their poison. These criminals will think twice before coming to Maine when they hear of roving squads of armed soldiers patrolling York County.
I would support down-sizing the legislature, but also raising pay to better attract quality individuals. Many middle-aged people forgo public service because of their family and business commitments. This causes the legislature to be overwhelmed by recent college grads and retirees, not exactly two groups of people who fully appreciate the rough and tumble of the everyday economy.
Absolutely not. While the use of vulgar language is not conducive to good government, it certainly doesn't constitute an impeachable offense (the Secretary of State, a Democrat, agrees by the way.). It's also important to acknowledge the power that 'the R-word' holds over white people. An accusation of racism against a white person is often employed as a social shaming tactic to end reasonable debate on racial issues. I think this is what got under the Governor's skin and led to his regrettable voicemail. There's no excuse for his behavior, but that doesn't mean he was wrong to point out the disproportionate number of Blacks and Hispanics represented among out-of-state drug dealers. If we're going to find long-lasting solutions to the heroin epidemic, we need to be able to talk about these issues without resorting to cheap tactics or name calling.
I'm personally against legalized gambling, but the genie is already out of the bottle. No one region or company should have a monopoly on gaming in Maine. I would vote to allow localities to decide whether or not they want a casino in their back yard.
What is the biggest barrier to economic development in Maine and what can the Legislature do to address it?
The biggest barrier is lack of a skilled workforce for todays high tech industries. The legislature needs to continue to support innovation in education and incentives for highly skilled workers to come to Maine.
Higher than average healthcare and electricity costs are crippling economic development in the areas where Maine should be competitive. We have to find ways to either reduce these costs or offset them to encourage investment and entrepreneurial efforts 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?
Creating an environment where everyone can reach their highest potential and enjoy living, working and playing in Maine.
Maine's population is aging and decreasing because there aren't enough good-paying jobs that can sustain growing families. Many young workers feel pressured to leave the state for greener pastures. Instead of inviting more aliens into our culture, why don't we create economic conditions that will allow native families to thrive? I also believe in pro-natal policies, such as those proposed by Ivanka Trump, that would encourage men and women to have more children by offsetting the cost of expensive childcare. Let's grow our population the old-fashioned way, by increasing the birthrate among native Mainers. That's the organic solution.
What is the most pressing issue in Maine these questions have not addressed?
One issue not mentioned above is the need to continue to ensure that the State keeps providing revenue sharing to communities at an adequate level throughout Maine so that the burden of providing services does not fall to the property tax payers.
Preserving the historic character and quality of Maine people. I alluded to this in the previous questions, but we can't allow out-of-state special interests to dictate what our state is going to look like in 50 years. We have to take control of our own collective destiny and say 'no' to Wall Street bankers like Michael Bloomberg who want to erode our gun rights and flood our state with immigrants. The culture of Maine is under threat and we need leaders to stand up for our birthright. This is our home and we're not going to just give it away.