Describe your philosophy in regards to public sector services and government-funded
Maine people deserve a government that is responsive, efficient, and creative. I intend to lead a state government that is smart, entrepreneurial, and effective, paid for with taxes that are fair, equitable, and efficient (see answer to question #2). My philosophy starts with the social contract that binds us all together. I worry – as I have said in speech after speech over the past several years – about the growing inequities that no political slogan can hide, and about how Maine’s bedrock values of fairness and opportunity too often are ill served today. Great value remains in the notions of common goals and mutual enterprise, where burdens, obligations, and rewards are fairly shared. Government policies ought to enable, not inhibit, real opportunities for each of us to make the most of our respective talents and should encourage us to pursue those opportunities. That is how public sector services and government programs serve Mainers best. Delivering public services in efficient and cost-effective ways does not need to mean – and does not have to come at the expense of our civic culture. If we are smart about it, we can strengthen and enhance the vitality of communities while we improve and make more efficient the delivery of government services in ways that end up costing us less. It is important that the delivery of public sector services is executed in the context of positive, forward-looking leadership, and strategic vision and planning. Experienced public sector leaders and employees should be engaged in this effort.
Please explain your position on tax reform, tax breaks, and the general question of
revenue. What will be your primar y approaches to balancing the State
First and foremost, we all need to acknowledge that we must increase the overall level of economic activity in the State of Maine. Otherwise, it won’t matter much what our tax structure or rates are, because 10% of zero and 5% of zero is still zero. My priority is increasing net incomes across the board for all Maine people. We can do this by broad reforms in our tax structure (including reducing the burden of property taxes), by reforming health care, by investing in a serious and sustained way in education, our competitive advantages and our infrastructure, and by developing an umbrella Maine brand that can be an enduring economic driver even in challenging economic times. Picking out one element of tax reform as a symbolic exercise is no substitute for a vision, a plan and a strategy. We need to reform Maine’s tax structure in ways that will help us leverage our competitive advantages, create and protect opportunity, and grow our economy. Standing between Maine and sustained economic growth, more jobs and shared prosperity is an outmoded, inefficient, highly regressive, and unfair tax structure. Our whole tax structure needs to be overhauled to make it more fair and sustainable. Tax breaks should be treated – and justified – like any other expenditure. We need to examine all tax breaks to ensure that they are fair and result in long-term economic development for Mainers. Each year we effectively spend hundreds of millions of dollars that are not collected because of tax breaks, deductions, and credits. That backdoor spending isn’t mentioned in the governor’s budget proposal, and the legislature does not consider and appropriate the money in the