Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Election '08: Tim Driscoll on the Issues

Tim Driscoll is a Democrat seeking re-election to District #126 in the Maine House of Representatives. Click here to see if Driscoll will be on your ballot on Tuesday, November 4.

What are your top three legislative priorities for the upcoming session?
1. Provide efficient constituent service.

2. Maintain primary levels of service for the young, elderly and disabled.
3. Continue to plan for increasing faculty in our universities and colleges for health care

occupations (especially nurses).

How do you plan to implement each of these three goals?
1. Provide quick responses to constituent needs and requests, whether I am able or unable to

meet the specific need or request.
2. Despite the impending budget deficit we will be facing in the next budget, we need to ensure

that those most vulnerable are taken care of.
3. Because of the impending shortage of health care workers (especially nurses) in the state, I

have been meeting with a workgroup in Augusta throughout the summer discussing
healthcare occupations, where the current needs are, where will the shortfalls be in the near
future, and how do we meet those needs.

Which three state programs do you think should be maintained or expanded, and which three state programs do you think should be cut or eliminated?
Because of the impending shortfall/budget deficit that we will be facing in the upcoming 124th Legislature, my belief is that the budget in its totality has to be looked at. All departments need to find areas of efficiency and some consolidation and some reduction, including the legislature. One area I have thought about is the number of bills submitted by legislators each session. I have heard that each submitted bill costs between $2,500 or $3,000, even if it does not pass out of committee. My feeling is that we could eliminate half the number of bills submitted by limiting each legislator to five submitted bills per session. That would not only reduce the cost per bill submitted, but it would also reduce the committee time and the cost of taking up the bill. It might also reduce the time the legislature is in session, given the shortened committee time. If a legislator has a bill that he/she feels is so important that puts him or her beyond the five-bill limit, they could request the Legislative Council review whether the bill meets the merit of emergency legislation.

What are your thoughts concerning the Dirigo Health program?
- It was enacted by a bipartisan vote prior to my legislative service.
- Intentions are honorable, as there are approximately 120,000 uninsured in Maine.
- Dirigo Choice has not met benchmarks, though Dirigo Health has created real savings.
- We will have to seriously look at funding mechanism for Dirigo Choice.
- I have suggested in the past that all legislative employees (including legislators), executive

employees (including Governor), and judiciary employees should be enrolled in DirigoChoice. It
would give the program we are supporting as lawmakers more legitimacy.

Do you plan to vote 'Yes' or 'No' on question 1 on this year's referendum ballot?

What are your thoughts concerning casinos in Maine?
- I voted to support the Washington County Racino. Area residents overwhelmingly wanted it

per referendum and it would attract Canadian tourists (it is the 6th or 7th largest border
crossing in the United States). Also, at the time, unemployment in the area was up to 16%. And
finally, the project was not rushed; it had good planning and support from the area.
- I have reservations about the proposed casino in Oxford County.

Do you plan to vote 'Yes' or 'No' on question 2 on this year's referendum ballot?

Cite at least one example in which you cooperated with a member (or members) of another political party.

During the tax reform debate and vote, I spoke in support of Dick Woodbury’s (I)-Yarmouth amendment which decreased the income tax to 4.9% over 5 or 6 years. It got about 55 to 60 votes in the House. However, I voted against the enactment of the original bill because I didn’t feel the income tax reduction was significant enough.

Cite at least one example in which you've differed with your own political party.
See above.

What are your thoughts concerning same-sex marriage or civil unions?
I support civil unions.

What are your thoughts concerning school consolidation?
Good concept. I'm all about finding efficiencies, collaboration, cooperation, merging of programs and services and I think it could actually improve programming and curriculum for students in rural communities. It should save communities tax dollars.

What are your thoughts concerning term limits for legislators?
Leave it up to the voters.

What are your thoughts concerning the state budget?
These next 2 years will be very difficult. Tough choices will have to be made, as 70 to 80% of the budget is consumed by health care and education.

What are your thoughts concerning sex education in Maine 's public schools?
HPV, HIV, hepatitis, herpes, and STDs are where our focus should be. I see the repercussions almost daily in the emergency room. And while education starts in the home, it needs to be touched on in the schools as well, especially for those whose parents aren’t comfortable or willing to discuss these important life issues with their children.

What are your thoughts concerning the state's current levels of sales tax and income taxes?

I would support a broadening of the sales tax if the income tax were significantly reduced along with it, such as Rep. Woodbury’s amendment I spoke of earlier to the former tax reform vote. Our revenue is too dependent on items which rise and fall with the economic conditions of the time such as auto sales and home sales.

What are your thoughts concerning the Clean Elections law in Maine?
I support clean elections. It allows me to run for office without undo influence from special interest.

What are your thoughts concerning Maine's gun laws?
I am endorsed by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. I do not own a gun, but I used to hunt in my youth when I lived in Washington County. I feel Maine has adequate laws currently on the books.

What are your thoughts concerning abortion?

It is a decision to be made between a women and her health care provider.

What are your thoughts concerning funding for education in Maine, particularly higher education?
I am a strong advocate for our community college system. Its tuitions are less costly and, in many cases, 2 years of education (an associate's degree) usually leads to a good-paying job right away. The associate's degrees it provides enable an employee to be in the labor market, while earning a decent wage without being totally saddled with student loans. Also, since many of the degrees can be parlayed into a bachelor's degree at Maine's public colleges and universities, the employee can work toward the bachelor's degree using tuition-assistance from his or her employer.

(Editor's Note: Tim Driscoll's opponent, Kevin Crocker, did not respond to my e-mails.)

- John C.L. Morgan

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