This is very general question, and a very general answer to the question is no. Spending for social services is scrutinized closely on both state and federal levels. Persons identified as in need of social services, in the form of financial assistance or access to actual services, are often those who are the most frail or vulnerable in our society. I generally do not support sweeping decreases in social services. I do support mechanisms by which providers can make sure that the benefits are going to qualified recipients. Before I give an opinion on any increase or decrease in benefit programs, I would need to review the specific proposal for the cut to determine the cost and the impact on our citizens.
I do not support raising the sales tax to lower the income tax. Increasing the sales tax would shift the tax burden toward lower and middle class families, who spend a much higher share of their income than the wealthy in order to provide for themselves and their families. An income tax, which can tax the wealthy at a higher rate than the poor, is a much fairer way to spread the tax burden.
Six months ago, I would have answered yes to this question because I believed that legalization would decrease the level of crime surrounding marijuana use and the taxes garnered from legal sales could be put toward addressing the addiction problem in Maine. I have since learned that the level of crime surrounding marijuana use in states that have legalized use has actually gone up. Until I understand this link, and whether it could occur in Maine, I do not think we should legalize marijuana use and risk an increase in related crime.
I support a fund that will provide for the increase in teachers' salaries and the salaries of others who assist in the learning process. The pay scale for teachers in most Maine school districts is very low. We cannot expect to maintain high education standards if we cannot attract and keep good teachers.
Paying people a fair wage not only circulates money back into the economy for an economic boost to our state, but it also keeps workers off our social services programs because they earn too little to afford food or housing.
I don't see this as an either/or question. We need to fund both options in order to protect our citizens and address the growing opium epidemic.
I think this is a question that the voters should answer by referendum. There are pros and cons to both systems, and those could be presented to the voters as part of a referendum campaign.
I believe that the size of the Legislature is appropriate. Maine voters expect direct and personal access to their elected officials. Decreasing the size of the Legislature makes access to legislators more difficult for individual voters.
My support or lack of support would depend very much on the specific circumstances in question. I cannot answer this question in the abstract.
It is difficult to know which barrier is biggest, although I know there are several to address. A few to look at: lack of access to high-speed internet, high heating costs, and relatively high transportation costs for goods. Solving these problems is a several step process that is going to require cooperation among legislators to produce solutions.
There is not one answer to this problem. Generally, the more vibrant the economy, the easier it is to attract employers and employees to the state, regardless of whether the people are from outside the state or are people who are choosing to remain here. We need to focus on creating an economic environment that makes people want to stay in Maine.
I believe that it is universal access to affordable health care.