Is Maine too generous in providing social services to its residents? Which government benefits should be increased or decreased?
Genorisity is not how I would characterize state social services. Rather I see them as critical investments in public health, safety and economic stability. As a culture we are a caring, helping people. The current administration has created a negative, demonizing approach to social services that is incongruous with the culture. The impact will have a long lasting effect on the futures of Maine families and businesses. In 2016 we should be using all available resources to ensure no one is hungry, without shelter, without medical care or without the ability to work and contribute to community.
Do you support expanding or raising the sales tax to lower the state income tax? Why or why not?
No. A sales tax is a regressive tax by which people with lower incomes end up spending a greater percentage of their incomes on necessary items. Because the majority of Mainers are middle to lower income earners, higher sales taxes would burden them with more of the state needs. Shifting from income to sales tax also would overburden property owners as property taxes rise disproportionately to make up for lost income tax revenue. With such an older population, too many folks living on fixed incomes would be doubly burdened by the sales and property taxes.
As a nurse and public health professional I have real concerns about making any drug widely available. In this case I worry in particular about unintended access to children. However, the effects of mass incarceration and the uncertainty of unregulated drug product are equally concerns for public health. So I support its legalization with reservation. Legalization and hopefully eventually change in scheduling of the drug should open up opportunities for research on both therapeutic effect and safety. We need to know more about dose, duration and interaction with other drugs. And as with any drug, we need massive educational programs that teach children good decision making skills to avoid problem use.
This is a public health matter. This action will substantially decrease deaths by firearms in suicides and domestic violence. This law may not be a solution to crime but it will prevent deaths and injuries. Contrary to some concerns, it does not threaten any right to lawfully own a gun. I urge voters to read the language of the proposed law. There are reasonable exceptions for transfer of ownership.
7.50 an hour is simply not a livable wage. We must adjust incomes for hard working Mainers. I do recognize this may create difficulties for small businesses in my district along the coast who already pay a higher wage due to the lack of transportation and affordable housing in the area. So we must commit to initiatives to address those issues as well as part of building our workforce and economy.
I support the spirit of this initiative. It would ensure better representation. Despite concerns about constitutional limitations, we must respect the people's call for a vote and hopefully determine the best course of action if obstacles arise.
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?
No. We have known for some time across the country and beyond that penalizing policies have little effect on supply and demand. Instead we must commit to a comprehensive effort of prevention, education, treatment and ongoing rehabilitation. Education should start with very young children and extend all the way to families, employers, health providers, and community in general. We must establish detox and rehab services and make available long-term rehabilitation supports, all that emphasize individualized treatment plans. This effort should include consideration for social support, housing, and job opportunities. Law enforcement is a partner in this effort but should not be expected to take the place of public health and health care.
Is the size of Maines Legislature appropriate? Should the pay for legislative service be increased?
Yes, the size is appropriate. I believe citizens should have access to legislators. The best representation comes with established relationships between legislators and constituents. Current district sizes support that.
The very low pay limits candidacy to wealthier individuals as the sessions interfere with truly full time work.
Would you support sanctioning another elected official if he or she made public comments or statements that were considered racist, offensive or prejudicial?
Yes. Elected officials work in unique circumstances. But they should not be without protections for safe work environments. In addition to being colleagues, elected officials are role models for the community. They set the tone for the state. Respect is the essence of a working government.
What is the biggest barrier to economic development in Maine and what can the Legislature do to address it?
Hard to say one specifically but a solid communications infrastructure anchoring high speed internet would help economic development on so many levels. Small businesses are the backbone of Maine's economy. They could grow and function more efficiently with an improved communications network. Even simple things like processing credit card purchases in tourist shops can be inconsistent at times. Building, maintaining, and using a great system would require lots of skilled, well-paying jobs too.
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?
Create opportunities to keep young Mainers here with student loan relief, affordable housing, transportation. Welcome and recruit immigrants. Support transitional services for immigrants. Establish family-friendly policies like child care, paid family leave and good schools to draw young families here.
What is the most pressing issue in Maine these questions have not addressed?
Access to affordable health care. The Hospital Association is estimating 75,000 people are uninsured due to the failure to expand Mainecare and fully implement the Affordable Care Act. There are another 10,000 estimated uninsured because they are not aware they are eligible or they simply can't pay exorbitant premiums. Hospitals in District 7 are experiencing millions in unpaid care from patients who HAVE insurance but cannot pay their very high deductibles. This is an untenable situation. The police departments who have taken on the role of health care coordinators for people with opiate addictions are monopolizing staff time with phone calls made across the country looking for drug treatment facilities willing to take patients from Maine who have no insurance to pay. Many addictions could be avoided all together if individuals had insurance and accordingly a primary care provider who carefully monitors prescription opiates, chronic pain and appropriate treatments. We must expand Mainecare now and then we must put our heads together to find a better way for all Mainers to have access to affordable, quality health care when they need it.