On the Issues
How do you propose the Legislature closes Maine’s budget gap?
I will continue to look at all possible spending cuts and at all programs which could be streamlined or consolidated to save taxpayers money, similar to what I have done in the past as a member of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee with jails and the corrections system. Any future cuts to the state budget should be focused on preserving funding for education, roads, public safety and life-saving health care services for working families, seniors, disabled, and children. I remain committed to working together to figure out what is working and what is not so we can solve our budget problems, rather than kicking the can down the road for future generations to deal with these problems.
Do you think same-sex marriage should be legal in Maine?
I believe that two consenting adults should have the opportunity to marry under Maine Law, no matter what the gender, and live a life of love and happiness in today's society if they so choose. Who am I to say otherwise, really?
Do you support school choice?
I support a strong public education system that provides educational opportunities for Maine students to succeed in life. I will continue to support and focus on improving our public schools rather than funneling money away from them into private schools, because I believe every child deserves an opportunity to succeed in school. Lawmakers should be listening to all stakeholders – teachers, local businesses, community leaders, parents and students — to move our public schools forward.
Do you think Maine's school consolidation program has been successful?
The school consolidation law was a bold attempt to reduce administrative costs in education and place those dollars back in the classroom. This is a concept I support. However, a one size fits all formula does not work for education in Maine. I think the law was well intended but is not very popular, and I can understand why. Our schools are still not funded the way they should be, the state has never been able to fulfill its commitment of paying 55% of the costs of education, and this is something the Legislature needs to continue to work toward next session.
Do you think Maine should expand MaineCare as proposed by the president under the Affordable Care Act?
A couple of years ago, Maine expanded its Medicaid program before the Affordable Care Act. I believe it is important that we continue to utilize federal funds to make sure that Maine's working families can stay healthy and productive, and so we can pay for the appropriate nursing home care and prescription drug coverage for senior citizens and the disabled. We should always be looking out for those who need help.
What is the biggest thing Maine can do to attract more jobs to the state?
Maine people are known for their commitment to hard work. However, we need to make sure the right tools are in place for Maine people to succeed in the workforce. Just like we are seeing at the Brunswick Landing, companies are locating to the region, but they require many different skills. To help accommodate their need, SMCC has partnered with many of the companies to provide courses focused on the job needs. Private investments have helped make this happen and it is important that we provide public support as well. Bonds for research and development will help attract clean manufacturing businesses and employers who offer good paying jobs with benefits. Infrastructure improvements and lower energy costs will also help attract business to Maine and our region. As we know, better marketing will attract more quality job-creators. I will continue to fight for the necessary tools to help bring jobs for Maine people.
Do you support lowering the state income tax? What state spending would you cut to make up for the loss of revenue?
I remain open to the idea of lowering the income tax to encourage retirees to stay in Maine and to help Maine families. At the same time, the reality is that we have to look at the whole picture or else we end up shifting costs to local municipalities, which in turn falls upon the Maine property taxpayer who is already faced with a high property tax burden. In my opinion, the best way to move forward is to craft a comprehensive tax reform that reevaluates every tax in Maine so that we all pay our fair share and are not taxed out of opportunities.
Are Maine's public assistance benefits too generous? How should they be changed?
Maine has the oldest population in the country and we have a high number of returning veterans who need services. We also know that Maine pays more for nursing home care, for homeless shelters, for medical care and for food and heating assistance than some other states. I agree that we do not want to see people stay on public assistance forever, but I believe it is morally right to preserve a basic safety net for people who really have nowhere else to turn. If someone is abusing the system, we need to find them, so the programs can be available for those who really need the help.
What should the state do to lower energy costs?
The state should invest in alternative energy sources with the goal of lowering electricity rates for Maine consumers. We also have some of the oldest housing stock in the nation, so it is important that we invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities.
Should Maine place more restrictions on abortion?
The issue of a woman's right to choose was resolved a long time ago by the Supreme Court. As a lawmaker, my focus is on strengthening Maine's economy, getting people back to work, moving our state forward, and solving the major issues facing Maine people today.