Voters in rural eastern Maine are fed up with the status quo, fed up with the welfare state and fed up with decades of liberal Democrat misgovernance in Augusta.
That is the broad even, if partisan, conclusion I’ve drawn from the 44 specific responses to a constituent survey I sent to every household in my legislative district in late April. The mailer went to voters in 21 towns and 4 townships in Hancock and Washington County.
To be sure, it was an unscientific survey. But the results reflect what I have been hearing on the campaign trail as I talk with voters in the newly configured House District 137, stretching from the Penobscot Valley to the Hancock and Washington County highlands.
During my first term in the Legislature, I was stunned by majority Democrats’ stubborn refusal to address urgent issues that kindle the wrath of voters who work hard and play by the rules. People who get up and go to work in the morning are upset that so many of their able-bodied neighbors who don’t work and won’t work live as well as they do. The message I’m hearing from voters is this: Working families want the safety net preserved for Maine’s most vulnerable elderly, poor and disabled.
Working Mainers see the rampant abuse of EBT cards in the check-out line at the local store on a daily basis, while our nursing homes have been chronically underfunded for the better part of a decade. Candidates for public office can run, but they can’t hide from addressing the reality that state government’s priorities have been upside down for a long time.
This outcome is the legacy of 40 years of of liberal Democrat policy-making in Augusta: Elderly and disabled Mainers languishing on wait lists for needed services because funding is unavailable, and the safety net stretched into a hammock for way too many able-bodied young adults who can afford tattoos and cigarettes.
So I was not surprised at the lopsided 98-percent approval for reining in EBT/welfare abuse. I still don’t understand why majority Democrats shot down all four of the common-sense welfare reform bills we considered at the end of the last session in May. Democratic obstructionists will have to answer to the voters on Nov. 4.
Neither was I surprised by the overwhelming constituent support for workplace freedom. I sponsored both of the right-to-work bills in the first session last year, to make payment of dues and fees to labor unions voluntary. Democratic majorities in the House and Senate killed paycheck protection for workers, thus confirming that the Democratic Party in Maine is a wholly owned subsidiary of organized labor.
Democrat leadership in Maine would rather have no new jobs at all than right-to-work jobs free of union coercion.
Indiana and Michigan, both strongholds of the union bosses for as long as anyone can remember, were the most recent additions to the list of states that have enacted paycheck protection. Sooner or later, Maine will join the ranks of the now-24 states that have replaced compulsory unionism with workplace freedom.
More jobs, less welfare. More freedom, less coercion. That’s the message my constituents want delivered to Augusta.
Here are the survey results from House District 30:
1. What do you consider to be the top three most critical issues concerning Maine citizens?
Options: business attraction, welfare reform, health insurance, transportation, reducing state spending, energy costs, education, tax reform and other.
Results: (1) reducing state spending, (2) welfare reform, and (3) Tie — education and
2. Do you believe the state’s budget problems are caused by too much spending or not enough revenue?
Results: Too much spending — 80 percent; not enough revenue — 20 percent.
3. Do you believe that Maine should implement an upfront work search requirement for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants?
Results: Yes — 98 percent; no — 2 percent.
4. Do you believe welfare funds should be prohibited from being used for tobacco, alcohol, gambling and posting bail?
Results: Yes — 98 percent; no — 2 percent.
5. Do you believe Maine should enact right-to-work (workplace freedom) laws that make payment of dues and fees to labor unions voluntary?
Results: Yes — 78 percent; no — 22 percent.
6. Should Maine reduce or eliminate state income taxes on retirees’ income?
Results: Eliminate — 51 percent; reduce — 36 percent; no change — 13 percent.
Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, is serving his first term in the Maine House of Representatives. He serves on the Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development Committee. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.