the elimination of the estate tax.
2. Reform Welfare
We must deal with our welfare system – Maine cannot be known as a sanc-tuary state. When people think ofMaine they must think of it as a placeto come and work.Maine’s Medicaid enrollment, now at23% of the state’s population, isunsustainable. Maine is a low incomestate. Incomes are further reduced byhigh taxes collected largely to sup-port spending on state welfare pro-grams. If this does not change, Mainewill not have the business investmentand growth in private–sector incomes that are necessary to create jobsand opportunities.We cannot afford to continue allowing benefits beyond the federal60–month limit. Nor can we afford to continue without residencyrequirements.We must develop a system where people on welfare aren’t punishedfor trying to get back to work. People who return to work on apart–time basis should be able to collect a pro–rated share of benefitsto provide incentives for people to re–enter the full–time workforce.I believe that the best welfare program Maine can offer is the oppor-tunity for a good paying job.
3. Lower Health Insurance Costs
Maine can act on its own to lower insurance premiums and increaseaccess to the health insurance system.We essentially have only one major carrier of individual health insur-ance left in Maine, Anthem. The individual insurance market inMaine is not a profitable market for insurers for a number of reasons,including:• Regulations requiring insurance carriers to accept all applicants,regardless of health status.• Regulations limiting the amount of price variance between applicants.• Younger, healthier people dropping coverage because it is unaf-fordable, leaving a more expensive group in the insurance poolwhich creates higher insurance rates.We need to examine Maine’s requirement that insurers adhere to com-munity rating and guaranteed issue – which requires that insurerscover anyone who applies, regardless of their health condition and ata uniform premium.According to The Maine Heritage Policy Center, a healthy male inMaine who is 30 and single pays a monthly premium of $762 in theindividual market. Next door in New Hampshire, he pays $222 amonth. One big reason: New Hampshire doesn’t have community rat-ing and guaranteed issue.Mainers also need better options for financing their own health careexpenses, such as Health Savings Accounts so that people can be intel-ligent consumers of health care services.We must also, finally, bring comprehensive tort reform to Maine.In a Les Otten administration, reducing health care costs will also focuson encouraging Mainers to takepersonal responsibility for theirhealth. It is estimated that preventa-ble illnesses make up 60% of med-ical costs in the United States. Weneed to eat better; exercise; getour children outside; and promotewellness programs through ourschools and partner with organiza-tions such as the YMCAs to encour-age good habits from childhoodon.
4. Cut Government Spendingand Eliminate RegulatoryBarriers
Augusta hasn’t made a real com-mitment to cutting expenses. Wemust reduce government spendingand stop hurting Maine taxpayers.We must also face the reality of Maine’s growing debt burden, specif-ically the $5 billion in unfunded obligations for health insurance pre-miums for retired state employees and retired teachers. This issue con-tinues to be ignored in Augusta.Wasteful spending can be eliminated at all levels of government. It istime to conduct a comprehensive audit at how Maine tax dollars arebeing spent to encourage the areas that are working and eliminatewhat isn’t working. Programs that waste taxpayer dollars, such asDirigo Health and the Maine Clean Election Act program, must beeliminated.We must identify and implement opportunities to privatize as manygovernment functions as possible.There is an opportunity in the near term to achieve savings throughattrition; nearly 40% of our state employees are eligible for retirementwithin the next 5 years. We can be strategic in replacing these depart-ing employees if we make a serious effort to follow the lean govern-ment principles, such as the Bend The Curve program, that are alreadybeing utilized by many departments within state government.Increasing the productivity of our state departments will be the highestpriority when I am governor and that ethic will be reflected from thecommissioners on down.State agencies have added to the problem by the creation and imple-mentation of unnecessarily burdensome and often nonsensical rulesand regulations. Over–regulation of Maine businesses and industrieshas stood in the way of economic progress. Along with a commitmentto cut expenses, we must commit to reforming the power held by stateagencies and the types of regulations that they create.High taxes are killing jobs and opportunity in Maine. Businesses con-sider Maine a hostile environment and they look elsewhere to expand.The businesses in Maine are constantly being enticed to leave forstates with better tax situations. Rather than raising revenues, we needto do what it takes to increase the job base which will increase receiptsto assist in funding government.In a Les Otten administration, state government will be committed toensuring that we are creating Maine jobs and promoting opportunitiesin Maine. The days of a Maine government that gets in the wayinstead of paving the way for the success of its citizens will be over.
“As Governor, I’ll be Job Creator in Chief” – Les Otten
In 2009, Maineexperienced a netout–migration. Maineis one of only threestates in the nationto lose populationlast year.