Yesterday, another opinion piece in this newspaper encouraged Maine voters to, once again, embrace business-as-usual in Washington. It was composed by one of my 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary opponents, Les Otten.
Instead of commenting on my record of fiscal reform as Maine State Treasurer, Otten complains about an old campaign ad which exposed the massive losses by Mainers who bought stock in his failed American Skiing Company.
He mentions my objection 21 years ago to spending $100 million to widen a short stretch of turnpike to relieve congestion for a small number of summer weekend hours. I have no tolerance for wasteful spending, whether at the Maine Turnpike Authority or any other government agency.
The piece misleadingly questions my strong commitment to individual gun rights by citing a small, single donation I made 23 years ago. He fails to mention my membership in and “A” rating from the NRA.
Otten even goes back 15 years to dig up an unfortunate disagreement between abutting property owners. I’m at a loss for words.
On Tuesday, I don’t believe Maine Republican voters will select their U.S. Senate nominee based on who throws the most mud. They will choose the candidate with a proven track record of conservative reforms needed in Washington to control spending, eliminate debt and rebuild our economy. Wisconsin voters recently made the same point loud and clear.
I’m proud of my 35 years in the private sector. Much of that experience was in the investment management industry. My partners and I worked hard, played by the rules and built a successful company. In doing so, we helped thousands of American workers enjoy more secure retirements by prudently investing their precious savings.
I understand the financial markets. I know how to create the climate that attracts business investment and jobs. I’ve felt the heavy weight of being responsible for the safe and productive investment of someone else’s money.
I’ve taken that real-world experience to Maine State Treasury. I’m equally proud of working alongside Gov. Paul LePage to help put Maine’s fiscal house in order. The new administration engaged the two most powerful unions in the state — the teachers and state employees.
For six exhausting months, I traveled throughout Maine (at my own nickel), explaining to taxpayers why common-sense and fair pension reforms were desperately needed. I talked one-on-one with legislators, testified before the state Appropriations Committee, met with newspaper editorial boards, debated union representatives on TV, called talk radio, presented to rotary clubs and other civic groups and blogged nearly every week about this critically important issue. I returned hundreds of phone calls and emails, even though many were personal and nasty.
In the end, we convinced enough legislators to adopt pension reforms that eliminated $1.7 billion in public debt. This cut future spending by roughly $200 million per year. The largest tax cut in Maine history followed, $150 million. Our state budget is in better shape, and the pension plan is more secure.
I also turned my attention to the quasi-independent authorities, such as Maine State Housing Authority. I exposed nearly $300,000 taxpayer dollars being spent on 1,100-square-foot “affordable” apartments, while 6,500 vulnerable families waited for safe units to call home. The criticism poured in from special interest groups across the state. I stood my ground, told the truth and did what was right.
Now, the new MSHA board is rapidly changing the building standards to drive down the cost for low-income housing in Maine. More of our disadvantaged families will be helped, and the taxpayers will be treated fairly.
The time is right for Maine to send someone to the U.S. Senate who has the business experience and guts to make the tough decisions to help fix the financial crisis in Washington. I have that experience and a successful track record of fiscal reform. I’m ready and eager to do the hard work for the people of Maine.
Bruce Poliquin is the state treasurer of Maine and a Republican primary candidate for U.S. Senate.