Over the past four years the Legislature has taken steps to address questions associated our social service system including the use of EBT cards and providing the Executive Branch with more resources to address welfare fraud. I believe areas where we can do better are offering child care for single mothers trying to support their families, addressing the welfare cliff, and providing educational opportunities which will enable people to lift themselves out of poverty.
We must ensure that the state receives the tax revenue necessary to meet our basic obligations to our citizens, and to provide the services and long term investments they support. We must do this in a fair way that takes into account ability to pay. The sales tax falls most heavily on poor and working people, while income tax falls more heavily on the wealthy. Therefore, raising the sales tax to lower the income tax is raising taxes on the poor to lower them on the wealthy, a backwards approach.
Although I support Question 1, I have three concerns. First, I want to ensure children and teenagers receive ample education about the dangers of using marijuana recreationally. Second, we need to develop impairment standards and field tests for marijuana. Finally, I do not want to see out-of-state corporate interests entering Maine and controlling the recreational marijuana industry.
Nearly two decades ago a majority of Mainers supported a referendum that the state fund a minimum of 55% of the cost of public education. Weve never met that threshold. Question 2 provides the Legislature with an avenue to achieve that goal. I would certainly entertain other ideas that enable the state to meet its educational requirement, but to date, I am not aware of any alternatives.
I certainly support background checks for firearm sales. Additionally, I believe we need to address gun safety. Presently, there is nothing in place to ensure someone purchasing a gun knows how to handle and operate that gun safely. Texass safety training requirement provides Maine with a good example of how to rectify the safety issue. Having said that, I have significant questions about the wording of the Question 3.
No one should work full time and still live in poverty. When businesses don't pay a living wage, tax payers have to pick up their slack. The threshold to receive food stamps (SNAP benefits) for a family four is a maximum monthly income od $2,633. Based a 40-hour work week, that is $15.80 per hour or over twice our current minimum wage. Additionally, I would support a limited and well-defined training wage, but absolutely believe in a paying a livable wage.
Absolutely not. Addiction is a medical issue and thus substance abuse treatment is a critical aspect of the answer in addressing illegal drug use in Maine. Having said that, we need a three-pronged approach which includes: 1) access to substance abuse treatment including residential treatment facilities, 2) law enforcement and 3) education.
I see the value and drawback to both avenues. However, I believe much greater issues face Maine such as the opiate crisis, a lack of a comprehensive energy policy and our aging population, which should be addresses before we tackle the way Maines constitutional officers are elected.
The number of legislators enables and enhances direct contact with constituents. If the number of legislators is lowered access to them will also decrease. Mainers must decide if they want to pay fewer legislators or have easier access.
The amount we pay legislators determines if regular working people can afford to represent us, or if that opportunity will only be affordable to retirees or the wealthy.
Absolutely. However, people should understand that the Legislature can only censure its members.
I do not support right-to-work laws. They exist for the sole reason of breaking unions. Unions are a vital aspect of our economy and are needed more than ever as we watch the top 1% of Americans benefit from the increased wealth of the USA.
This obviously a complicated question and I believe there is no magic bullet, i.e., a single issue that needs to be addressed to increase economic development. The answer is we must invest in Maines future. We can accomplish that through our education system, infrastructure such as roads, bridges and culverts, technology development, high speed Internet access, protecting our environment and development of alternative energy such as solar. The Legislature can and should establish and direct policy development that makes investing in our future a priority.
As the father of two young men in their mid-20s who recently graduated from colleges outside of Maine, we must also find ways to encourage our children to return to Maine to use their newly acquired skills and knowledge here instead of another state.
Certainly immigration is part of the equation of bringing new people and skills into our state. We also need to consider investing in things that improve our quality of place and will attract young families and people building careers - educational institutions, excellent internet infrastructure, etc. While seeking new people and skills, we also should not forget to value our current and elder populations who after all have been here all along and will continue to contribute in the many ways they always have.
Healthcare. Despite years of obstruction, I have yet to hear a good argument for turning down this funding that would benefit so many Maine citizens. At the same time, there are numerous excellent reasons to accept the funding: addiction treatment, savings in catastrophic care, job creation in medical fields, to name just a few.