FALMOUTH — Incumbent state Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, is facing Republican Jennifer White of Gray in a bid for re-election to her seat in Senate district 25.

Both candidates are focused on the state’s economy in light of a projected budget shortfall of over $1 billion over the next three years, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

District 25 covers Chebeague Island, Cumberland, Falmouth, Gray, Long Island, Yarmouth and part of Westbrook.

Breen

Breen is serving her third term as a state senator and hopes in a fourth term to continue as chairman of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, which deals with the state budget. Breen said she wants to play a role in helping Maine recover financially from the pandemic.

“It’s really important that we protect core state government functions like public education and health care,” Breen said. “Right now, the state pays for 51% of general purpose education. That’s the highest the state has paid in Maine history, and I want to make sure we don’t have to roll back that percentage in any way.”

Breen also said with the governor’s Climate Council wrapping up for this year, it will be important to implement the council’s recommendations.

“That will be an enormous priority for me and my colleagues, to start implementing some of those shorter-term ones and build blocks for the longer term ones,” Breen said. 

The plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 80% by 2050, with support from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Voters can look at her record to confirm she is the right choice, Breen said.

“We sent back to towns and cities hundreds of millions (through increasing state revenue sharing), which had enormous impact on property taxpayers. We got the rainy day fund up to also historic high at $258 million. We did all that without raising any income tax,” she said. 

“I’ve also introduced a pay equity bill (that) prevents employers from asking about prior salary history during the negotiation process, one of the things that has perpetuated the wage gap between white men and everyone else,” Breen said. “I had brought that up under Gov. Paul LePage, who vetoed it, but brought it again under Gov. Janet Mills, and was approved.”

White

White’s focus is on fiscal responsibility. Because of the projected shortfall, she hopes, if elected, to help decide what cuts to make to the budget that will have the least impact.

I want to bring a new approach and look at being creative with the best decisions we can for the businesses here,” White said. “(I) want to be a part of that. I really feel like we need people that can sit across the table from others and work collaboratively, regardless of whether they agree on everything.”

She wants to pay special attention to public education and other services.

“I am an advocate for children, families and small businesses, so whatever cuts are made, we have to look at the big picture. I am all for making sure that we have the essentials that we need for the families for those underserved,” she said.

She also wants to reduce property tax increases, looking at residents struggling to keep their homes.

“We need to keep (property taxes) in the forefront in our minds and we need to come up with solutions for our seniors so they can stay in their homes,” White said. “A lot of people have worked their entire lives, purchased homes and lived there. They don’t want to leave, but the rising taxes makes it very difficult for them to stay there and that is definitely a concern. “

White also wants to open up conversations about offshore wind power.

“You can harvest a lot of energy from the wind, it is stronger, we have such a huge coastline in Maine, and that’s a feasible way we can look into and see if it’d work,” White said.

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