On the Issues
How do you propose the Legislature closes Maine’s budget gap?
Maine is required to have a balanced budget, but we must make sure that we are not spending beyond the taxpayers' ability to pay. A responsible budget process should begin with reasonable tax and spending limits, and reliable, non-partisan revenue forecasts. Only then can we build a budget that will be both fair to the taxpayers, and will assure that adequate resources are available to provide the services that are the core functions of our state government. The budget process needs to be transparent and accountable to the people of Maine.
Do you think same-sex marriage should be legal in Maine?
I am in favor of the traditional definition of marriage as being a relationship between one man and one woman.
Do you support school choice?
Parents should be allowed some flexibility in deciding where the educational needs of their children are best met. That being said, the reality is that most students will still attend a public school, where we also strive for educational excellence for all of our kids. We should take great care to make sure that the quality of education in our public school system is not compromised.
Do you think Maine's school consolidation program has been successful?
Clearly, school consolidation has worked quite well in some school districts, and has failed in others. The one-size-fits-all, top-down mandate from the Baldacci administration was ill-conceived, and left school districts struggling to comply with the new law, with no real direction, and under the threat of stiff penalties. I would have preferred an approach that would have provided some general guidelines, and helped to facilitate the willing combining of school districts in towns where it made good sense for the students and the citizens involved.
Do you think Maine should expand MaineCare as proposed by the president under the Affordable Care Act?
Yet another one-size-fits-all mandate from the federal government will not be a guarantee of either better or more affordable health care. Maine had already expanded the Medicaid program at a much more rapid pace than our increase in population, and beyond what taxpayers could afford, leading to the budget gaps mentioned earlier. A better approach would be to give the states more flexibility in designing a program that meets their unique needs, and allows patients more freedom to choose the doctor and health care plan that's right for them.
And remember, all tax dollars, whether federal, state, or local, come from the same source — you.
What is the biggest thing Maine can do to attract more jobs to the state?
Perhaps the single biggest thing Maine can do is to reduce and simplify the rules and regulations that hinder small businesses. Burdensome and costly regulations, combined with high energy costs and high taxes, all put big roadblocks in the way of small business owners, farmers, and entrepreneurs. By removing or minimizing some of these roadblocks, we make Maine a more competitive place to do business, thus attracting job creators, and private-sector jobs, to our state.
Do you support lowering the state income tax? What state spending would you cut to make up for the loss of revenue?
Sound fiscal policy calls for keeping taxes as low as possible. I support a fairer, flatter, and lower state income tax. We need a tax structure that encourages people to come to Maine, to stay in Maine, and to work and grow their businesses in Maine.
People can, and do, vote with their feet, and have the option of moving their families, and their businesses, to another state with a lower tax burden.
Are Maine's public assistance benefits too generous? How should they be changed?
We have a moral obligation to provide assistance to the most vulnerable of our citizens — those who are not able to care for themselves. However, Maine has historically been quite generous with our public assistance benefits, in some cases much more so than national averages. I support the structural reforms that resulted in a five-year limit on TANF benefits, and brought our benefit levels and eligibility requirements more in line with other states. Above all else, we need to make sure that limited resources are going where they are most needed.
What should the state do to lower energy costs?
This is one of the greatest challenges we face here in Maine. We need to take an all-of-the-sensible approach to lowering energy costs. We all know that high energy costs are harmful to small businesses and farmers, and I talk to hard-working people every day who are concerned about how they will heat their homes this winter. We should look at all forms of energy that are available, reliable and affordable, including natural gas and hydro-electricity, both of which are abundant and relatively inexpensive. At the same time, we should continue to encourage private enterprise to develop sustainable, renewable energy sources.
Should Maine place more restrictions on abortion?
My personal belief is that life begins at conception, and that we have an obligation to protect our most vulnerable. Abortions should be allowed in the cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is in jeopardy.