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Thursday November 27, 2014

Where do the candidates stand on major issues? Prior to the June primary, we asked the candidates to submit first-person statements on seven major issues facing the state. Independent candidates who entered the race after the primary have been asked to submit statements. These will be added as they are received.


The Issues


Candidates were asked their positions on issues before the June primary. If a candidate's name does not appear under an issue topic, his or her position was not received in time to present it here.

Social Issues


Click on a candidate's name below to read their responses to issue questions.

Mainers believe in fairness, generosity, and opportunity. Government should subscribe to these values. Ensuring that our children have access to a good education from infancy through school graduation and that they have adequate food and shelter is a fundamental social value. The state budget must reflect that value. Taking care of our neighbors when they are in need is another important Maine value. Respecting the rights of individuals is fundamental. That's why I proudly stood up for marriage equality and will do so again. That's why I have always supported a woman’s right to choose as well as other rights affecting women. I support our Human Rights Commission and its efforts to prevent discrimination of disabled, aged, and minorities.

I believe that all human life is sacred, including our young and unborn children. I believe that government should recognize the importance of parental involvement in our children's education. I also support traditional marriage, along with Maine voters who decided last fall that the definition of marriage should be preserved.

In today’s society we are confronted with many social problems of equal concern and importance. Gay & lesbian civil rights are immediate and well acknowledged. Others, like the consequences of the erosion of our economy, are borne in the shadows by Maine families who do not have an advocate for their struggles. Other issues, such as affordable medical care, civil rights and access to treatment for the mentally challenged, are better known and have established advocacy groups.

As Maine’s next Governor, I will be the champion of families and individuals who need jobs, who suffer in silence as the working poor. Poor health, challenges in our school system and law enforcement all are impacted by the increasing gap of rich and poor. Maine people want a brighter future. Maine can’t afford to be divided anymore. I will work to join us together and establish a culture of achieving solutions.

Tax Reform


Click on a candidate's name below to read their responses to issue questions.

The Wall Street Journal called Maine's cutting the income tax during a recession "the Maine Miracle.” Legislators debated lowering our income tax for over thirty years. As President of the Senate, I helped lead the effort that got results. Maine’s income tax was too high, and our sales tax base was too narrow. The tax reform package we passed cuts the income tax by 20 percent and stabilizes our revenue stream which will improve future budgeting. Over 90 percent of Mainers will see an overall reduction in their tax burden if tax reform is upheld at the polls. Small businesses will also benefit. The tax relief on capital gains will spur investment in Maine's economy. I urge everyone to vote “NO” on Question 1 on June 8 so that we will not be raising the income tax. In addition to this reform, we need to explore other measures that encourage job growth like expanding seed capital investment tax credits and that encourage retirees to choose Maine.

The new law moves away from taxing incomes and savings and towards taxing consumption. It also exports tax burden to people from out of state. These are the right directions. We should give the law a chance. Neither supporters nor opponents of the repeal can predict with real certainty what the impact will be. But I pledge that if the law does not live up to its promise of reducing the overall tax burden on Maine people or proves to be a detriment to job creation and investment in our state, then as governor I will be the first to call for changes.


"Genuine tax reform isn’t the shifting of our collective tax burden from one group to another, reducing the overall tax burden for all Maine citizens is my goal. What separates me from my opponents is that I’m the only candidate for Governor that has consistently lowered the taxes of the people I was elected to serve. "

As Mayor of Waterville, I reduced property taxes each year from the year after I took office without cutting existing city services. Waterville accomplished this by finding organizational efficiencies, applying sound business principals, and acting in the best interests of the taxpayers, Maine can too.

Meaningful tax reform can only be accomplished after we get a handle on spending at the State level. Too many Maine families and businesses are suffering under heavy tax obligations. My plan will reduce the size & cost of State government by obtaining an actual cost basis for our revenue needs. We will:

• Move to a zero based budgeting model
• Include State employees in implementing their solutions, not outside consultants
• Eliminate furlough days and replace with a voluntary, proven 32-hour week
• Institute proven, private industry methods for best management process

As Governor, my tax reform plan will encourage business friendly practices and champion the Maine way of life. Maine traditional outdoor sportsmen, motorcyclists, hiking, forestry products, tourism, and commercial fishing all contribute great amounts of tax revenue to our State. My tax reform effort will enable the growth of private industry while establishing disciplined State-spending plans.

Health Care


Click on a candidate's name below to read their responses to issue questions.

Health care is a right, not a privilege. As governor, I will continue the work of lowering costs and increasing access. Our efforts must be focused on prevention and long-term health. I will continue innovative approaches like Health InfoNet and set up an exchange to increase the purchasing power of small businesses and individuals. We must encourage more primary care doctors, medical homes, and health centers around the state. We need continued focus on transparency in hospital rates and medical services. I support the dental school proposal and the creation of rural dental health clinics. The current cost of healthcare is a major barrier to Maine' economic growth; getting costs down is critical to our health and to our economic future.


Lowering health care costs is critical to creating jobs and economic opportunity in Maine.

My Maine Wellness plan will provide essential health care services to all Maine people by focusing on keeping us healthy, not just paying for costly procedures after we get sick. Today 60% of our health care dollars are spent treating illnesses that are preventable.

The new federal law gives us an extraordinary opportunity to innovate with healthcare delivery organized around Maine's not-for-profit hospitals and community health centers -- not insurance companies.

With rewards and incentives for healthy lifestyles, my plan will make quality care available to all Maine people at a price that we can afford.



Maine’s most critical Health care issue is the cost of Health care Insurance. As Governor, I’ll embrace solutions that have worked in other states to lower the cost of health insurance. We must encourage competition in the marketplace to lower costs by enacting legislation to allow individuals and businesses to purchase insurance over state lines. I support tort reform legislation at the state and federal level to reign in frivolous medical lawsuits and tax credits to assist individuals and businesses in the purchasing health insurance. Finally, Insurance mandates must be reduced to allow Mainers the opportunity to purchase sensible health coverage.

Our campaign is about solutions, not maintaining the same failed systems. My plan calls for a “Maine Health Care Bond” to provide public funding for private, innovative start up companies and physicians on a health care provider model that introduces consumer-cost© into our health care pricing model. Under this plan, Maine people will be able to afford treatments and doctors care based on actual cost for service and not the over inflated, run away cost that are the current problem with our health care system.

Healthy food in our public schools will lead us in the right direction toward changing long-term health care cost in Maine. The medical community knows dietary choices are critical in health care & maintenance. We have unhealthy children that grow to be unhealthy adults. Our unique agricultural policy leads to economic growth and long-term health care benefits.

Energy


Click on a candidate's name below to read their responses to issue questions.

Maine has the capacity in our research, our heritage industries, and our workforce skills to truly transform our energy use. We have started that process, but it will take a focused effort to bring together the resources of the private sector and public sector.  It is a partnership that my administration will make happen by doing what I have done throughout my career: bringing people together from all sides to accomplish great things for Maine's people.

My plan would:
1) Expand renewable energy production across Maine - including appropriately sited wind, tidal, and existing biomass. Continue to invest in R&D on new energy sources, including woody fibers and algae.
2) Integrate the components of energy production to make Maine the manufacturing base for wind blades, turbines, and stanchions and other components of renewable energy production.
3)  Continue to increase efforts on energy efficiency in our homes and businesses, reducing the demand for energy.
4) Expand alternative transportation options, recognizing that almost 50% of our energy use is in transportation.

God has blessed our State with some of the greatest resources on earth. Ninety percent of Maine remains forestland; the State's sovereign waters are teaming with fish, and beneath the water lays an abundance of natural gas.  The greatest of all our treasures resides in the work ethic and ingenuity of our people.  The burden of punitive taxes and the interference of counterproductive regulations have prevented the full utilization of our great natural resources and have denied Mainers a path to prosperity.  I will remove these obstacles; our state government will once again work for the people and not against.

Maine businesses and families are struggling under the fifth highest energy cost in the country. My energy plan revisits the Maine Public Utilities Commission study that recommended we change our energy regulatory plan here in Maine and effectively save $600 million a year in energy cost for Maine ratepayers. This is an immediate and proven solution. Maine currently produces more energy than we consume. The problem is, we are shipping that energy out of State and buying it back at a premium market rate, a practice that does not serve Maine's best interest.

As Governor, I will initiate incentives for families and businesses to replace convectional, inefficient energy use with proven, at the source energy production. Attaining success in point of use energy conservation and community based energy production will elevate Maine as the leader in the 21st century energy cost savings, efficiency, and conservation.

Education


Click on a candidate's name below to read their responses to issue questions.

1.) We must set clear strategic goals that can be measured. We need to expand early education, increase technology in classroom, and cut the drop out rate in half in the next 4 years. We must develop smart, creative, risk takers to build the new economy.
2.) We must get the voices of teachers, parents, and businesses into the discussion of increasing student achievement and how to measure it. We then must embrace it.
3.) We must better prepare students for higher education, reducing the need for so much remedial work after graduation.

Public education is in trouble. Enrollments are plunging; yet costs are soaring, and academic achievement is waning. Bad organization, poor leadership and political deals are cheating our children. I will not rest until every Maine child has an equal opportunity to succeed.

Three first steps? Reward teachers whose students show the most improvement. Permit charter schools and districts, giving parents, teachers and communities more control and the freedom to innovate. Combine our two systems of higher education and manage the merged system in ways that will best serve our students and our state.

Increased competition will breed excellence; therefore, I support statewide choice by implementing a voucher system as well as the creation of new charter schools. Within Maine’s Educational system, we need to eliminate teaching to national assessments and allow teachers to create a learning environment that challenges all of our students to excel. For Special Education, I’ll eliminate the disparity between school districts in identifying and supporting students requiring special education services. We use our tax dollars unwisely when some classes have as few as 4 students and others up to 25; a goal of 16 to 20 students per class is achievable.

To fundamentally improve Maine’s educational policy for the long term we must trust and engage our teachers. Maine teachers are being directed by a failed national education policy. I will work with Maine’s teachers to improve education. We must revisit our local school curriculum and funding model immediately. As Maine’s next Governor, charter schools and school choice vouchers will be included in our educational model. Working with aerospace, defense, and semiconductor companies for 16 years has shown me first hand the disconnection between our curriculum and those skills companies are seeking in this country, high-tech work force.

Maine must meet its obligation to fund 55% of local educational cost. This must be done by reducing the size & cost of State government, not increasing taxes on Maine family’s and businesses. By funding education at 55%, State government will enable communities to lower property tax burden on Maine families and businesses.



The Budget Gap


Click on a candidate's name below to read their responses to issue questions.

As Senate President, I’ve made the tough choices and brought members of both parties together to balance Maine’s budget. First, I am fighting for a jobs bond that will put people back to work now because a stronger economy is the key to solving our budget challenges. Second, we can do more to reform state contracting and reduce waste. Third, we shouldn’t abandon the historic tax reform bill enacted last year that cut the income tax by 20 percent while expanding the tax base. I encourage voters to vote No on Question 1 in June.

* Prioritize all programs, tax breaks ($3.4 billion dwarfs operating budget), government agencies. Eliminate those we don’t need or don’t work (e.g., motor vehicle inspections).
* Reduce scope of Medicaid services.
* Consider a small gasoline tax increase for Highway Fund to fix roads and bridges.
* Get pupil-teacher ratio up to average of rural states that outperform Maine (saves $400 million).
* Long term: Increase economic activity and revenues by lowering costs of electricity, health care and government services.
* Smaller Legislature — annual sessions, annual budget, capital budget.
* Streamline DHHS services — 7,000 contractors is too many.




My initial action would be to find the most qualified commissioners for Education and DHHS. Then we would go about establishing cost effective methods of delivering these services throughout Maine. We need to reform our delivery systems while improving the quality of education and welfare. These two departments account for approximately 80 percent of the state budget. Further, Dirigo is a failed program and needs to be made cost effective or eliminated.



Economic Development


Click on a candidate's name below to read their responses to issue questions.

As Senate president, I led a successful effort to lower Maine’s income tax by twenty percent. The Wall Street Journal called it a “miracle” saying “no state has improved its economic attractiveness more than Maine.” I just led successful efforts to pass a jobs bond to put more than 1,000 Mainers back to work: 1) creating a deep-water pier for large cruise ships in Portland; 2) keeping railroad lines in operation in Aroostook; 3) fixing roads, bridges; and 4) developing offshore wind energy.

As governor, I’ll do my job to make sure you have yours.

Governors don't create jobs, but a good governor will change Maine’s conditions so that people and businesses can thrive and prosper.

Maine has incredible assets. I have a strategy for investing in our many competitive advantages and for lowering those high costs — of electricity, health care and government services — that block our ability to take advantage of them. Those costs keep out investment and stand in the way of better jobs, higher incomes and more opportunity. At www.cutler2010.com I have spelled out my plan to lower those costs, fix a broken government and build a trained and educated workforce.

God has blessed our state with some of the greatest resources on earth. Ninety percent of Maine remains forestland; the State’s sovereign waters are teaming with fish, and beneath the water lays an abundance of natural gas. The greatest of all our treasures resides in the work ethic and ingenuity of our people. The burden of punitive taxes and the interference of counterproductive regulations have prevented the full utilization of our great natural resources and have denied Mainers a path to prosperity. I will remove these obstacles; our state government will once again work for the people and not against.

The most important thing I will do as Maine’s next Governor is work with legislators to make Maine the most business friendly State in the Country. My plan will ensure Maine establishes a global identity as a business friendly State that champions environmentally sound development practices. Maine will prove that business growth and environmental protection are interrelated and not competing concepts.

States such as Virginia and South Carolina lead the nation in business growth. I will take action, reaching out to these States and seeking input on methods that are proven. Under my plan, Maine will take the lead in innovative solutions to economic development:
• Lower Energy cost and Health Care costs
• Champion & improve the quality of our Maine workforce
• Make certain existing Maine business have regulation they can grow with
• Place taxpayer funded employees on a commission driven basis, a proven growth tool utilized in the private sector