Paula G. Sutton

Paula G. Sutton

Paula G. Sutton

Republican candidate for Maine House District 95 from Warren

Running against Elinore Goldberg. View your ballot →

Is Maine too generous in providing social services to its residents? Which government benefits should be increased or decreased?

In some cases yes, we give too much. We should not be rewarding people for lack of effort and poor decision making. We need to decrease benefits to non-disabled childless adults and direct the funding towards developmentally disabled individuals and critical at home services for seniors. We need to continue working to eliminate the welfare cliff where people who are trying to get back on track lose too many benefits too quickly and are not able to manage the drastic changes so quickly. We need to continue to get people signing up for services the very first time matched up with a program tailored for their individual needs while keeping in mind their unique skills that will transition them back into the workforce as soon as possible. Staying on these programs may cause some to become dependent upon them and inhibit their desire for self-sufficiency. It is imperative that our social safety net is intact for our most vulnerable individuals .

Do you support expanding or raising the sales tax to lower the state income tax? Why or why not?

I support lowering the income tax. If Maine were to lower its income tax we would enhance our reputation and desirability as a location to reside in and create jobs. Eliminating or reducing income tax results in an instant raise in everyones paycheck and reduces stress on April 15th. Many individuals currently claim residency in other states to avoid Maine income tax and consequently spend less than 6 months of the year here. I believe if they were no longer penalized with income tax they would stay within our borders much longer and while here participate in (ie volunteer at charities) and contribute to our communities (ie tax revenue on meals, movie tickets and fuel) . Eliminating income tax will also reduce the size, scope and cost of government. I do not support raising sales tax on common essential items such as car repairs, groceries, medical and heating fuels.

Do you support marijuana legalization in Maine, as outlined in Question 1?

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

No, I believe there will be negative unintended consequences.

At the present time we do not have an accurate way to test toxicity levels while operating vehicles. I am concerned about the safety of our children, fellow drivers and pedestrians. I recently read an article in the WSJ that said that the legalization of pot has contributed greatly to the heroin epidemic in this country. In a nutshell, the article claimed that due to decreased demand for pot grown in Mexico because of increased US pot production in part due to legalization, and lenient enforcement by police the drug lords in Mexico had a dilemma. The distribution networks they had in place were not being fully utilized so they transitioned their product base to heroin. Then they drastically dropped the price of heroin to effectively compete with the high price of prescription pills and created a huge market for their high quality low priced heroin to draw customers.

Do you support raising taxes on Mainers with incomes above $200,000 to increase state aid to education, as outlined in Question 2?

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

No. We all agree education is important but disagree on how to provide it at a cost we can all afford. This measure would increase taxes and the money would be put into the general fund and there is no guarantee it would be used for its intended purpose. If this tax increase were to occur Maine would be the most highly taxed state in the nation second only to California. I do not support the concept that spending more money equates to a better education. The Maine people are sick of being misled with these cure all measures. We have been told that both the lottery and the casinos would pay for our schools and neither time the promises came to fruition. Many are reluctant to speak out in fear of being labeled anti-children or teacher. Maine schools do not need more money-they need correct incentives. The way to deliver this and ensure better opportunities for all is to adopt vouchers and more charter schools.

Do you support universal background checks for firearm sales, as outlined in Question 3?

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

No, Maine currently enjoys a high percentage of gun ownership and a low crime rate. We do not need this restrictive measure which would make the action of lending hunting rifles to friends a crime. I resent the fact this measure is being driven by out of state special interest groups with millions of dollars who are trying to drive policy here. When I was in high school I was robbed at gunpoint at a local convenience store where I worked. It was a two man job and both had prior felony records. Luckily I had been taught not to resist in that type of situation and willingly surrendered the contents of the cash drawer. It was a terrifying experience to have a masked man point a gun in my face. After the event it never crossed my mind to blame the gun or demand stricter gun laws. I knew then and still believe today that it was the evil man holding the gun that was at fault and all the gun laws in the world would not stopped what happened from occurring. Armed robbery is illegal, felons having guns is illegal and criminals do not follow laws. We do not have a gun problem we have a people problem.

Should Maine raise its minimum wage, as outlined in Question 4?

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required.)

Minimum wage is a starting point for unskilled labor and was not designed to be living wage. One troublesome and overlooked aspect of the current proposal as written is that it seeks to eliminate the tipped credit utilized by wait staff and restaurant owners would be forced to pay more in hourly wages. I have owned restaurants in the past and have also waited tables. As a former restaurant owner I can tell you I could not have paid more in wages because profit margins are razor slim. As a former waitress I can tell you that I made an excellent hourly wage and was satisfied with the wage formula. My research and experience tells me that wait staff would experience a significant loss of income if this passes. I have serious concerns that if this legislation were to pass it would force the closing of many restaurants who cannot afford to pay more in wages. Also there are 6000 developmentally disabled adults working for minimum wage now in Maine whose employers may not be willing to pay more for their basic skills thus depriving these individuals an opportunity to participate in their communities and make a contribution to society. Finally, if minimum wage increases the cost will likely be passed along in the form of increased costs for goods and services resulting in no net gain.

Do you support the initiative to use ranked-choice voting to elect state and federal officials in Maine, as outlined in Question 5?

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

No, I think it's too confusing and complicated. Governor Jerry Brown of California recently vetoed it citing the same reasons. The Maine legislature has already considered RCV before and decided that it was not the best course of action. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills also cites significant constitutional concerns with the legislation and I believe that many supporting it do not fully understand how it works. Rank Choice Voting does not guarantee a majority and nowhere in the legislation is the word majority actually used. In the 2011 mayoral race in Portland 19,728 votes were cast. After 14 rounds of counting utilizing the rank choice method of tabulation the winner emerged with 9,061 votes which is clearly not a majority.

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?

It depends what you mean by prioritize. If it means spending more money than other areas I say not necessarily. Our opioid epidemic needs to be fought on all fronts and I don't think one area is more important than another. Prevention seems the smartest approach and I believe efforts in this area have fallen short in the last 10 years. People need to have hope and a reason to participate in their lives and the community. We should not overlook the importance of continuing to improve our local economy so that people will feel a sense of empowerment and control in their lives. Having a good job and a sense of pride will which go a long way to keeping them off drugs in the first place. We must teach our children healthy coping skills and hold them accountable for their decisions. Methadone and Sub Oxone only delay the true intended result which is of course sobriety and should be used for as short a period as possible.

Should Maines constitutional officers -- the secretary of state, the attorney general, auditor and the treasurer -- continue to be elected by the Legislature or by statewide popular vote?

I would support a statewide popular vote for electing constitutional officers as long as results are tabulated using the current plurality formula.

Is the size of Maines Legislature appropriate? Should the pay for legislative service be increased?

The size of our legislature is larger than other states but its current size seems to work for us at this time. Legislative service is an act of public service and therefore I feel the current pay level is appropriate. It may be helpful to consider limiting the number of bills that may be submitted in a given legislative period which would shorten the session duration thus making it easier for citizen legislators to be elected and serve Maines people.

Would you support sanctioning another elected official if he or she made public comments or statements that were considered racist, offensive or prejudicial?

The people of Maine respect the first amendment which allows us freedom of speech. At times we disagree with how others use this right but to sanction an elected official seems like an exercise in futility and is achieves nothing more than to provide some with a moral platform to look down on others whose speech we don't condone. We must all be tolerant and each work to become the change we wish to see in the world.

Would you support a so-called right to work law in Maine?

Yes

Would you support legislation or a ballot question to allow more casinos in Maine?

Yes

What is the biggest barrier to economic development in Maine and what can the Legislature do to address it?

In order to have economic development in Maine many aspects need to be examined and it is overly simplistic to choose just one barrier in particular. We need to have a transportation system, educated workers, a predictable regulatory environment, affordable energy costs and a tax structure that allows entrepreneurs be amply rewarded for taking risks and their innovative thinking. If I were forced to pick one area I would simply ask the legislature to get out of the way and stop interfering. The government rarely does a good job due to the size, scope and competing and conflicting agendas that it has. I think we need to begin to simplify our tax code and eliminate economic distortions that are created when government interferes with policy. An example of a distortion would be pricing of energy when subsidies and rebates are used. Taxes are needed to raise revenue but often are used to redistribute income and to encourage/discourage behavior. If our tax code were simplified the distortions created by excessive government interference would be reduced and the free market would be better able to respond and determine the pricing for goods and services at a true and honest level.

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?

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? *

One way the state could help is by working to improve the overall economic environment. Maine needs good paying jobs and in order to attract companies that provide them we need to continue with tax, energy and regulatory reforms. If we have good paying jobs here people will come and our youth will be less likely to leave. Passing right to work legislation would be a step in the right direction. Legal immigration makes sense if those that are arriving have the skills required to do the jobs that are available provided there are not already individuals here to do them.

What is the most pressing issue in Maine these questions have not addressed?

I am concerned about the growing number of citizens referendum items that appear on our ballot. My fear is that a number of these are financed and pushed by out of state special interest groups that will neither have to live under the laws or pay for any costs that they create. Currently the process to get on the ballot involves the gathering of signatures statewide. I would like to see the process changed to include language that specifies that proportionate amounts of signatures are gathered from each of the 16 counties. This would ensure that citizens in all areas of the state are in favor of the proposed changes and that the voice of the smaller groups is not drowned out by the larger population areas. We are not a democracy but rather a representative republic and the minorities must be protected.