On the Issues
How do you propose the Legislature closes Maine’s budget gap?
Maine’s budget gap is the result of a long string of poor decisions by the Legislature, stretching through Democratic, Independent and Republican administrations. We have a system which taxes the lowest income Mainers at nearly the same rate as our highest income residents, which discourages growth by taking much needed money out of the pockets of working and middle class Mainers who will spend it immediately. We also have a system which gives subsidies to corporations which do not need such largesse in order to operate in Maine. By raising taxes on the wealthiest Mainers and closing subsidies which do not create jobs, we can quickly create a budget surplus to pay for important programs, and lower income taxes for those who will drive growth: working and middle class Maine residents.
Do you think same-sex marriage should be legal in Maine?
I am excited to support same-sex marriage again in 2012, as I did in 2009. All Mainers deserve equal treatment before the law and have made support for same-sex marriage a key portion of my platform.
Do you support school choice?
School choice can allow parents to make the best decision for their children if run properly and, if improperly run, it can lead to the undermining of the public school system. I support choice across public schools in the same district, as Portland currently allows, but not for private or parochial schools and not across school districts. We should be emphasizing the community nature of schools, not undermining the importance of our neighborhoods and towns.
Do you think Maine's school consolidation program has been successful?
School consolidation has had some success, but it has come at the price of alienating some towns and in some cases, inhibiting local control. It is difficult to speak broadly on the success of the program due to the local specifics of each district.
Do you think Maine should expand MaineCare as proposed by the president under the Affordable Care Act?
We should expand MaineCare to cover every resident of our state regardless of income and pay for it through taxation. Maine can be a leader in healthcare reform and follow the growing movement to declare healthcare a human right, not a privilege.
What is the biggest thing Maine can do to attract more jobs to the state?
Around the country and the world, governments which invest in their constituents in terms of health care, education and other essential services produce stronger and more innovative economies, many of which have proven to be stronger during economic recessions than Maine and the United States. I support making higher education in Maine fully funded, as we currently do for grades K-12. I also support shifting the tax breaks we currently give to large corporations such as Wal-Mart, to support job growth from local businesses which will create more net wealth locally.
Do you support lowering the state income tax? What state spending would you cut to make up for the loss of revenue?
Low and middle income tax payers pay a large share of the state income tax, while the wealthiest are not paying their fair share. I support creating a significantly more progressive income tax structure which will place the largest tax bill on those who have the greatest ability to pay.
Are Maine's public assistance benefits too generous? How should they be changed?
Maine’s public assistance benefits are inconsistent but incredibly important to all Mainers who use them. During an era of economic uncertainty, we must be ensuring all people have access to the basic essentials of food, water, housing and health care, not decreasing assistance.
What should the state do to lower energy costs?
Maine’s energy costs will drop if we take the initiative to weatherize our structures without forcing homeowners to take on more debt. We will significantly decrease the amount of fossil fuel dependency and increase our ability to move to clean, renewable energy.
Should Maine place more restrictions on abortion?
Abortion should be safe, legal and available to all women who need it.