Saturday, October 30, 2010

Election '10: Tim Driscoll on the Issues

Democrat Tim Driscoll is running as the incumbent against the Republican nominee Bruce Chuluda for the District 126 seat in the Maine House of Representatives. Driscoll responds to a batch of policy questions below, and you can see if he'll be on your ballot on Tuesday, November 2 here.

What are your top three legislative priorities for the upcoming session?
Develop and adopt a plan that addresses our future impending budget shortfall, while at the same time preserving investment in workforce development; education, municipalities, and infrastructure needs; and protecting our quality of place.

How do you plan to implement each of these three goals?
Work toward energy cost reduction, regulatory predictability, and further Research & Development of biotechnologies and green energy, such as wind and ocean energy development. Job-specific and directed investment in our community colleges and universty system, increased access to dental services by assisting with the development of a school of dentistry, and continued encouragement of entrepreneurial growth.

Also, I would work toward the preservation of existing jobs and work on policies that would enhance creation of new jobs through continued work on the Labor Committee. Once known for its partisanship and divisiveness, the committee is now valued for its understanding, its thoughtful deliberation, and its fairness for working families and the business community as well.

Which three programs do you think should be maintained or expanded?
Each of the 17 Joint Standing Committees have oversight over specific departments and programs. We will look at every department and program from the committee level to address reductions/expansions that have already been made by department heads and make the needed changes, either agree or disagree with those changes, and make revisions as a committee before sending them on to the appropriations committee for deliberation.

Which three programs do you think should be cut or eliminated?

See my answer above.

Cite at least one example in which you cooperated with a member (or members) of another political party.
During the 2nd session of the 124th legislature, we were facing a national economic collapse and unprecedented job losses. One other Democrate and myself, along with all of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle on the Labor Committee, ensured that LD 1655 did not make it out of committee. This was no time to be putting more mandates (paid sick leave) on an already struggling business climate in the state.

What are your thoughts concerning the state budget?

In the 124th Legislature, we worked in a bipartisan fashion to find efficiencies and coordinate service to reduce the current biennial budget by approximately $840 million, without raising any taxes. we need to continue in that vein and to work in a collaborative effort to find smarter and more efficient ways to deliver services at a reduced cost to Maine citizens. At the same time, we need to ensure our children, our elderly, and the disabled are not adversely impacted by our decisions. Every program and department will be on the table for review.

What are your thoughts concerning the Clean Elections law in Maine?

I support the Clean Election law in this state.

What is your opponent's greatest strength?

His willingness to participate in the election process.

What are your thoughts concerning the state's education (K-12, as well as higher education) policies?

I am a strong advocate for education. I believe that many processes that were put in place in the school consolidation bill were already being accomplished or looked at within the Westbrook school system and seem to be working well at this time. Our community college system is "busting at the seams" with waiting lists of prospective students. I believe we could also look at consolidating some of the administrative processes with our university system as well.

What are your thoughts concerning same-sex marriage?
I support marriage equality. I cast my vote in the legislature in support of marriage equality.

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

Again, see my opposition to LD 1655, a bill that would've mandated paid sick leave.

What are your thoughts concerning the state's taxation system?
In the 123rd Legislature I voted against tax reform, because the redcution in the income tax was not enough. I think it was 0.2% of 1%. At that time I supported Rep. Woodbury's, (I) Yarmouth, proposal, which was a gradual reduction of the income tax from 8.5% to I believe 6.5% over a period of 5 or 6 years. His amendment did not have enough votes to pass. In the 124th, I supported a reduction of the income tax from 8.5% to 6.5%; however, it was repealed by the voters. We need to continue to talk and work on reducing the income tax of individuals, as well as small business.

What are your thoughts concerning term limits for legislators?

Legislators have term limits every 2 years at the polls, if they decide to run for re-election.
As a legislator, however, I respect the voice of my constituents when they voted to create term limits.

What is your opponent's greatest shortcoming?
I don't know him that well to respond.

What are your thoughts concerning the state's transportation policies?
The cost of petroleum products has been so volatile that we are unable to do what we would like because of the cost fluctuations and the high cost of pavement. We have been replacing bridges, as we have seen and will be seeing more of here in Westbrook. There has always been the rumor that the highway fund has been raided over the years to supplement the general fund. Although there have been transfers from one to the other over the years, we did receive a run sheet which showed that over a 20-year period, I believe, there was about a $200,000 difference when the changes were looked at in total.

What are your thoughts concerning the state's public assistance programs?
Working in an emergency room, believe me, I see the value of folks being able to secure needed medical care. However, I also do see what many would consider abuse of the system as well. My concern is always for single women with children, the elderly, and the disabled. My understanding of residency requirements, put forth by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, is that they would be unconstitutional.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Election '08: Introducing Tim Driscoll (September 16, 2010)
Related: Election '08: Tim Driscoll's Proust Questionnaire (September 23, 2010)
Related: Election '08: Tim Driscoll's Favorite Things (September 30, 2010)

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