Is Maine too generous in providing social services to its residents? Which government benefits should be increased or decreased?
I don't think Maine is too generous in provided needed social services, with12% of seniors just in Sanford living in poverty, and about 20% of Maine children in poverty, and rampant food insecurity throughout the State. The cuts to target those who unfairly take advantage of the system were clumsily designed, because so many needy and deserving seniors, particularly, lost access to medicines upon which they depend. DHHS may not be delivering services in an effective way, but it appears that Maine is not allocating enough to serve those who have served us as good citizens for lifetimes, and those who have served in the military and are in need, and those so young they can only depend on adults to make good choices for them. I support eliminating those who abuse programs, however -- whether social services or other advantages paid for by taxes..
As far as the level of services and benefits provided, no they are not too generous. If you TRULY quality for food stamps, for example, then you are experiencing true poverty and really do need support in feeding your family and getting back on your feet. What we DO need to improve on is ensuring that folks receiving these benefits really do meet eligibility standards. We also need to disrupt multi-generational dependence on social services by helping/moving able people back into the workforce and building our economy so that a person who works a full-time job is able to support themselves independently.
Do you support expanding or raising the sales tax to lower the state income tax? Why or why not?
I do not support raising the sales tax, because it hurts those who have the least income to spare. I do not support lowering the income tax until we can return revenue sharing to municipalities, increase support for education, and lower real estate taxes.
No. District 33 in York county borders New Hampshire, which has no sales tax. The businesses in my Senate district that collect sales tax believe an increase would definitely hurt them more than the existing sales tax does now. The majority of working class and retired people are not in favor of a higher sales tax.
Eliminating one tax and increasing another is not the solution to increased economic growth for Maine. Of course, being from a border region affects my thinking on this issue, but the big picture requires statewide solutions as much as possible and I believe we have to ask some really hard questions of ourselves and the state. To generate more wealth and increase the flow of money for all, we need an educated, trained, skilled and competent labor force. Are we producing that, and if not, why? Many employers say today's workers do not meet the requirements they need.
No. This is a difficult issue for me. Having taught and coached at the high school level for 35 years, I saw the use of marijuana by teens and parents increase – both individually AND as a family. Marijuana use is becoming more and more socially acceptable. Knowing the damage caused by alcohol abuse, would I vote to legalize if it were illegal today? I'm not sure. I recognize that many feel that comparing marijuana to alcohol is inaccurate, and that marijuana is "not as bad" as alcohol - but does that make it "good"?
I DO support the medical benefits of marijuana, and Maine covers this under current law. However, at this time, I don't believe Maine has appropriate and necessary policies and procedures in place to regulate the use - and misuse - of legalized marijuana. More work is needed to get these systems in place.
I find this looks too much like a plan to drive small caregivers out of business and thereby offer less personal, professional care to those who seek marijuana for health care needs. I support review for appropriate regulation for caregivers, to assure patients of the needed quality and safety of their health products, but not unnecessarily subjecting both to higher costs of additional regulatory structure and meeting testing requirements that I understand do not have a proven base for deciding validity. I have too often seen huge corporate players make big plays to take over markets that small businesses have built, and use doubt, confusion and fear to do it, adding in layers of requiring professional services to further burden their smaller local counterparts.
I do not support the Stand Up for Students initiative, as I dont feel you can target a specific income level and make them responsible for better education. Additionally, I question whether the money that is assumed to be there actually is, and whether it will adequately meet the real education funding needs of this state. It is the States responsibility to fund education adequately, not just one group of citizens, and its clear our current education funding formula is NOT working. A decade ago, Maine citizens mandated through a ballot initiative that the State pay 55% of the cost of public education in Maine and the State has yet to fulfill this mandate. This is wrong. This summer Ive been speaking with other legislators and educators, who, like me, feel we need to address this major shortfall. I intend to bring forth this funding issue with the legislature during the next session to ensure that a more equitable and adequate education formula is developed and enacted. This can only be achieved with broad, bipartisan support and the involvement of diverse groups across the state. My record shows I have the ability to foster this bipartisanship.
This is a good neighbor policy. If our gun laws are creating added burdens to neighboring states, I think we should cooperate with them to that extent. We may want additional help from them to help stem the flow of drugs into our state, much as our guns flow into theirs. I regret that some hunters feel the loss of a cultural tradition they have always honored, however.
I believe that labor demand, a competitive environment, and the skills and personal work habits that workers bring to the job are what should dictate compensation. I routinely hear from employers trying to hire workers that they are disappointed that their applicants lack good work habits and people skills. Most employers are willing to work with and further train employees willing to work hard, thus increasing their earning power. Guaranteeing an incompetent or unwilling worker $12 an hour is not good economic growth policy.
At the same time, I realize too many working people are struggling financially and believe that employers need to reward good workers accordingly.
This strikes me as a solution looking for a problem. We have a long democratic tradition that has worked for this country and state. If you win an election, even by 1%, then you win. Its as simple as that. Id rather see this time and effort put into engaging the electorate and increasing voter participation.
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 always favor proactive prevention, but this problem requires the tools of education/awareness and treatment. I'd prefer immune system boosting to help the body put up its natural fight before adding more drug activity into the mix, but a complete approach must consider all professional advice.
This is not an either/or situation. Trafficking illegal drugs is a crime. Addiction is an illness. BOTH law enforcement AND treatment are key to fighting the opioid epidemic. In fact, law enforcement and treatment providers should be, and often are, working together to create a unified front against this scourge. Last session, I sponsored a bill to expand access to treatment centers offering medication assistance and counseling by restoring reimbursement rates to pre-2010 levels. This investment would have helped reduce addiction-related crime, healthcare costs and lost productivity. Its unfair and unreasonable to place the burden of this epidemic solely on law enforcement. We need to redouble our commitment to a multipronged approach.
Is the size of Maines Legislature appropriate? Should the pay for legislative service be increased?
I think the legislature's size is appropriate. It is supposed to be a part time office, but there is enormous work demanded of it. Also, the State of Maine is so diverse in many ways, we need representation from all areas of it. I have always felt that the pay is awfully modest for the amount of work I do as a legislator; it's far more of a full-time job. That's been true for many years. I think a modest increase would allow more Mainers to consider running.
Yes, the size of our Legislature is appropriate to ensure strong representation of the people in Augusta. Ive heard folks complain about lawmakers getting fat off the people, but few understand that this more-than-full-time commitment pays far less than minimum wage. As a legislator, its hard to argue for a pay raise with a straight face. However, I would like to see more Mainers run for office we desperately need their talent and energy. Would better pay make this possible for more Mainers? Perhaps.
Would you support sanctioning another elected official if he or she made public comments or statements that were considered racist, offensive or prejudicial?
I think we need to maintain and ethical manner of speaking, as public officials, representing the public means representing them in their expected level of civility. I think sanctioning speech that offends their standards is appropriate.
I would take it on a case-by-case basis. Prejudicial and racist comments made by public servants are unacceptable and we certainly are morally compelled to speak out against hate. Elected officials have a duty and responsibility to represent ALL constituents.
Yes. I recognize the important role unions have played in our history and the power of collective bargaining. However, compelling someone to join a union has become as heavy handed as the industrial barons they were originally formed to resist.
Casinos are nothing more than an expansion of existing gaming in Maine. The original intent of gaming in Maine was very specific, to generate funds for education. However, these funds have been watered down and diverted, doing little of the good they were originally promised to deliver. The whole system should be reevaluated.
What is the biggest barrier to economic development in Maine and what can the Legislature do to address it?
The biggest barrier to economic development in Maine is lack of a united, positive front that is welcoming, listening, reasonable, helpful, and proactive in providing supports that are consistent with the values of Maine people. Infrastructure is key, and securing our electric grid from black sky events that would take it down for very long periods of time would be a powerful motivator for serious private and government businesses to come to Maine and existing Maine businesses to stay. We are seen as the leading state in protecting against extreme solar events and EMP attack, due to my legislation, LD 131, of 2013, and the resulting improvements that have been made to this point. However, we need to require certain robust, low-cost, protective devices be installed, and CMP and Senate Republicans have been blocking them. Getting them affixed, and thereby securing both human safety and business and job growth is a principal goal of my campaign. Top national experts in government, academia, science, and business are watching and hoping we succeed.
Education and the economic opportunities it fosters. I believe trade and technology education is central to building a skilled workforce, which we need to attract good businesses and jobs to the state. These educational opportunities should be available to everyone, something that is currently a challenge in the more rural parts of the state. Ive spoken with numerous business owners, manufacturers, and educators to support a coalition working to build business and educational partnerships and enhance opportunities. Im particularly proud of Sanford and the York County Community College for their work to make this a reality and want to bring these same opportunities to more rural areas. This is both an educational and an economic issue with far reaching implications. For a strong future, we need more Maine graduates to build their lives here too many must leave the state to find good jobs.
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 needs to be willing to lead in developing new economic sectors. The one I see as having huge potential is protection of our electric grid and electronics, which are very vulnerable to natural or human assault, thieves of personal info, hacking, etc. I believe the future defense of this country and our way of life offers opportunity for entrepreneurs to address this reality. A movement to do this should offer excitement for young people looking for a meaningful career direction, universities' and colleges' STEM and business programs, and those from outside the State attracted by the progressive mission.
We need to attract entrepreneurs and workers to the State, and we need to do more to encourage Maines younger generations to stay in state. This begins with a skilled workforce to attract and sustain businesses, and plentiful economic opportunities for workers. As with generations before, immigrants have an important role to play in building this and bring to Maine a diversity of skills and experiences that we can benefit from.
What is the most pressing issue in Maine these questions have not addressed?
I think the most pressing issue is the need to address energy security, resilience, alternatives like renewables, distributed energy, and assessment of our natural and other resources for resilience and independent generation within communities and areas.
Bipartisanship. We are paralyzed without it and the state and country are suffering as a result. While in the senate, I have made significant gains for bipartisanship by reaching across the aisle to work on issues, not politics. I want to continue the in-roads Ive made for bipartisanship in order to ensure that Maine has the leadership it needs to build a strong future. We MUST build bridges between Republicans and Democrats in order to create good policy and ensure a stronger economy and better life for all Mainers.