March 13, 2010

Candidates differ on state insurance plan

ANN S

— By . KIM

Kristi Bryant/ Senate District 4 candidate

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click image to enlarge

Nancy Sullivan, Senate District 4, 2008

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Staff Writer

Republican Kristi Bryant is trying to unseat Democratic state Sen. Nancy Sullivan in the race for the Maine Senate District 4 seat, which represents Arundel, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and part of Biddeford.

Bryant, a current member of the Kennebunkport Board of Selectmen and a librarian, said she believes state spending is out of control and that the state has not provided residents with sufficient property tax relief.

She believes a review of welfare programs is needed to see whether requirements are too lax, and she thinks the school district consolidation plan will pass costs to local communities.

Sullivan, a middle school teacher seeking her third Senate term, said she wants to make it easier for businesses to navigate regulation, make sure students learn critical thinking skills and encourage alternative forms of energy.

The two candidates are at odds over the state's Dirigo Health program and using the beverage tax to fund it. Voters will decide whether the tax should be repealed.

Sullivan, the co-chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Insurance and Financial Services, believes that while Dirigo is imperfect, it is a start to expanding health care coverage. She believes the tax is needed to keep it going and is a better alternative to a higher cigarette tax, which was once under consideration.

Bryant sees Dirigo Health as unsuccessful. She said it would be better to create more competition by reducing the costs of doing business, lowering taxes and reducing the amount of regulation. She criticized the last-minute changes in Sullivan's committee that resulted in the beverage tax.

Sullivan said lawmakers need to look for new solutions to problems, such as her proposal to allow school districts to go to a four-day school week to cut transportation costs.

''We are stuck with solving new problems based on old solutions -- that's both parties,'' Sullivan said.

Bryant said too much unnecessary legislation is being passed, which she believes leads to government growth.

''I think legislation should be the last resort,'' she said.

Bryant faces two misdemeanor charges in connection with an August accident in Kennebunk with a parked car. She faces charges of driving under the influence and not reporting an accident resulting in property damage and is scheduled to appear in Biddeford District Court on Nov. 5. Bryant declined to comment on the matter.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at akim@pressherald.com or at:

akim@pressherald.com

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