Michael Thibodeau (R-Winterport)
Waldo County — I am a native Mainer who has lived in Waldo County my entire life. I have spent my career owning and operating small businesses that have provided jobs for hundreds of hardworking Maine residents. My wife, Stacy, and I live in Winterport, and we have two daughters, Megan and Sara.
Why are you running?
It has been my pleasure and honor to serve as the state senator for Senate District 23 in Augusta for the past two years, and as the state representative for House District 42 for four years. I am seeking re-election to the state Senate for Waldo County in order to continue bringing the voice of the citizens of Waldo County to our state capital. My goal is to improve economic opportunities for all Maine families through responsible government that encourages private-sector investment and job growth.
What government services, if any, do you feel should be privatized?
In order to have a clear understanding of the effect any privatization will have on the current system of government, it is necessary to conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of each proposed change. This analysis is one element of creating a balanced budget. It is also important to acknowledge that Maine government has grown beyond the size and scope that we can afford.
What services do you feel need to be protected from budget cuts?
While we know that they don’t pass budgets in Washington, D.C. anymore, we have a responsibility in state government to have a balanced budget. Under the current administration, the federal matching dollars for many of our social service programs have been cut, putting a tremendous strain on our state government to backfill with state dollars while creating new “maintenance of effort” mandates.
Mitt Romney has proposed kicking Medicaid costs back to the states to administer and cutting federal funds for them. Would you support this plan, and how do you think it would impact state government and taxes?
Maine’s current system has too many insurance mandates that have driven up health-care costs and left us with few carriers willing to compete in our market. Some of these mandates are controversial and should be left to the consumer to decide.
We have seen a push, particularly from Republicans, for more identification at the polls. What are your thoughts on balancing the need for preventing voter fraud with the need to provide access to citizens wishing to vote?
The right to vote is a central premise to America’s democratic form of government. We must work in Augusta to uphold the integrity of this constitutional right and protect Maine citizens from having their vote diluted by voter fraud, while not creating unnecessary barriers.
What would you do for those seeking to start businesses and create jobs?
In Augusta, my primary focus has been, and will continue to be, reducing the unnecessary burdens on Maine’s small businesses and removing obstacles to starting new businesses. The small business sector is the economic engine of our state. Because of LD 732, which I alone sponsored last session, Maine’s small businesses no longer have their deposits held in perpetuity by T&D companies such as Central Maine Power. This has the effect of freeing up capital for them to make investments and both grow and create jobs.
How would you address the challenge of providing higher education for low and middle-income young people who cannot afford college without massive loans?
We need to improve the graduation rate of our higher education institutions. However, with limited resources, we must concentrate our financial focus on reaching the 55 percent statutory threshold for the funding of K-12 schools.
What should be done to protect Maine's environment and resources? Is this issue a priority for you as a candidate?
Our state has a long history of protecting the environment and its resources. Balancing this tradition with economic development is and should be a priority — Maine’s high quality of life depends on it!
Do you support state government buying more land to preserve it as state parks or local farmlands?
Local governments depend on property taxes to fund the integral services provided to communities. As we see more land trusts popping up across the state, it is important to keep this loss of revenue in mind.
Where do you stand on campaign financing?
Public campaign financing has long been debated, but with so many other pressing budget items on the table that take precedence, it will suffice to say I am very comfortable with the cuts that were made.
What should be done about the state's welfare programs, including disability benefits, MaineCare, and substance abuse treatment subsidies?
Maine’s social service programs have been expanded beyond our ability to pay. This expansion has put at risk our most vulnerable, who have limited ability to care for themselves and has included many individuals who would not qualify for benefits in other states. This is a trend that must be corrected.
Do you support allowing gay marriage in Maine?
I am on record as supporting traditional marriage.
How do you feel the Tea Party movement has affected local, state and federal politics and policy decisions?
The Tea Party is a coalition of people who believe we are taxed enough already. The “Occupy Movement” has attempted to vilify the private sector and demonize the free-market economy.