On the Issues
How do you propose the Legislature closes Maine’s budget gap?
Before it is even sworn in, the 126th legislature faces looming gaps in the budget like the “Mini-Tabor ” law passed by the 125th. Mainers emphatically rejected TABOR twice at the polls in the recent past. A partisan legislature has brought it back. It restricts our options, mis-directs our resources, and ties our hands at the very moment we need the most flexibility. One huge stide toward filling the gap would be repealing this hole, which we all see coming, before we drive the state truck into it.
Do you think same-sex marriage should be legal in Maine?
Over 105,000 Mainers signed petitions to place this option on the ballot, and to ensure in law that reigious institutions and religious leaders cannot be penalized for prefering not to solemnize such a union.
Do you support school choice?
I served two terms on the Portland School Committee. For most Maine towns public education is likely the largest expense of their public tax dollars.” Choice” proposals that shift around large sums of public money , based solely on personal opinion, can be devastating to school systems already strapped for resources. Public education is a wise, long-term investment for society. Investments take time to pay off. Public education is also a public responsibility. Politics should not be allowed to interfere with either that investment or that responsibility.
Do you think Maine's school consolidation program has been successful?
Consolidation and regional cooperation at the level of administration, transportation, and bulk purchasing, for example, when done right, can bear real fruit for local taxpayers. But some school systems like Portland — so big — and some rural and scattered school systems — too small — could never find good partners. Many such issues are unique to Maine’s many unique districts. Many such problems remain, including the important concept of ” Local Control. ” As a legislator before I voted to ease penalties under law for failure to consolidate. Continue do so. Acknowledge unique local issues. Hold out more olive branches than sticks. Continue to talk, not penalize. Education is too important.
Do you think Maine should expand MaineCare as proposed by the president under the Affordable Care Act?
ACA offers Maine options, and Federal dollars, we cannot afford to ignore. As our population ages, and school-entry numbers decline, Maine faces growing numbers of our most vulnerable citizens at both ends of the age scale. This stresses what the ever-challenged Middle Class alone can afford to support. Given the hyper-partisan nature of our national politics, now that the basic ACA has been upheld by the Supreme Court, states like Maine should grasp the many tools and funds it offers, and get on with the serious work. Building the new health care system for our society will be as important– and challenging — as building a new highway system. We are smart enough and are up to the task.
What is the biggest thing Maine can do to attract more jobs to the state?
Maine is famous for its capabile,reliable workforce. To this add education for the real jobs of the future . Use our U-Maine system — and booming Community College system –to do this, matched by sustained, continuing investment in STEM innovation ( Science, Technology,Engineering, Math ) to prepare our students for the skills of tomorrow. Match this up with Maine’s unique natural resources, nature’s heritage, sea harvests ,pioneering tidal energy, vast forests, and other such traditional strengths unique in the nation,and Maine can offer the world what nowhere else has.
Do you support lowering the state income tax? What state spending would you cut to make up for the loss of revenue?
Based upon ability to pay, income tax is our fairest tax. Although no tax is popular, those based on ability to pay spread the obligation across society in ways that seem most equitable for all , just like the benefits of society should be spread. The ” Mini-Tabor ” passed by the 125th ( see answers below ) turn this idea on its head.The greatest benefit goes to those who are best able to pay, not those needing the benefit the most. A thoughtful society, that cares about its own continued future, can’t run this way for long. Target tax relief programs — like thefamous Maine “Circuit Breaker ” — are best : they target the relief to the need, and put real money in the pockets or real people based on that need.
Are Maine's public assistance benefits too generous? How should they be changed?
A family of four in Maine would find it hard to thrive on the very basic TANF,SNAP,or other benefits offered in the state. Try it. In Portland, where at some elementary schools over 76% of the kids qualify for free and reduced lunch — a painful index of family poverty — the risk for a healthy society with a healthy future is clear.
What should the state do to lower energy costs?
According to the US Census and Maine PUC,about 79 % of Maine homes depend on oil heat ; the most dependent in the nation, with some of the oldest housing stock in the nation. To heat homes, and produce energy, Maine must look now to future technologies : near-shore Tidal, wood/biomass, solar PV and hot water, ceramic retention , small-scale hydro, and more. My own Feed-In-Tarrif law in the 124th ( see details on the PUC website ) one of the nation’s first, offers incentive payments to energy entrepreneurs. Go for it . Expand access to Maine’s natural gas pipelines. Maine has creative, innovative options that play to Maine’s native strengths : sun, wind, water, wood. An oil-based future is just not sustainable. Energy costs based on oil are not sustainable.
Should Maine place more restrictions on abortion?
No. I support the parameters set by the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade for this very personal, very challenging, individual choice and decision for all women, regardless of income or societal status.