Imagine if Maine’s Legislature were truly a citizen Legislature.

People would come before politics, and solutions would always be more important than special interests. “Business as usual” would finally mean something positive, because the peoples’ business would always come first. And “checks and balances” would mean citizens have a check on government, not the other way around.

That’s why I’m running for state Senate — to put Maine people back in charge. And if you elect me, I’ll get to work right away, starting with the very first three bills I will submit as Waldo County’s next state Senator:

The Tax Check Act

I want you, and all Maine voters, to have the final say over whether or not Augusta politicians should raise your taxes.

In the last two years alone, Maine voters have overturned two tax hikes through the People’s Veto: one to raise taxes on beer, wine, soda and doctor visits, and another to add sales taxes to more than 100 new goods and services. Both these tax increases were repealed at the polls by margins of about two to one.

If politicians know that every time they raise your taxes in the Legislature you automatically have the final say, there will be a lot fewer tax increases proposed. Elected officials will work harder to bring spending under control if they know the voters would be in charge of the tax rates.

And if politicians think they have a good reason to raise taxes, they will have to make their case to you, and all Maine voters. Serving in the Legislature should not give people free rein over your bank account. If they want more of your money, they will have to explain why. You might support the tax increase, or you might not. Either way, you and the voters get to decide.

The Tax Check Act gives you a strong voice in government. Your family budget won’t be held hostage by a tax-happy Legislature or politicians unwilling to reduce state spending. It’s your money and your government. You deserve the final say.

The Debt Check Act

You also deserve a say over the amount of debt politicians expect you and your family to pay. I want you to have the right to vote on all borrowing. After all, it’s you, your kids and your grandkids who are on the hook to pay off politicians’ debt.

Maine’s public debt burden is now well into the billions. It’s true that voters do have some say over what state government can borrow. General Obligation bonds are the borrowing proposals on which we often vote on Election Day. But the amount owed from these bonds — which now totals about $700 million — is just a fraction of Maine’s massive public debt.

Maine voters never approved most of the debt politicians expect your family to pay. That’s because government agencies most Mainers never heard of — like the Maine Municipal Bond Bank, the Maine State Housing Authority and the Finance Authority of Maine — have unchecked power to borrow, and leave you and your family with the tab. Politicians even created whole new government agencies like the Government Facilities Authority just to borrow money without a vote of the people.

The amount of non-voter-approved debt is nearly $11 billion. That’s unacceptable and immoral, and it’s the reason why I will immediately submit the Debt Check Act. It’s time to take the credit card away. If politicians expect you and your family to pay off their debts, then you have a right to decide whether or not they should keep on borrowing.

The Bill Check Act

Maine’s Government Oversight Agency is an independent state agency created to protect against fraud, waste and abuse of your tax dollars. Since 2005, it has identified at least $167,000 in misused funds and potential fraud, identified more than $2 million in savings, and recommended ways for the state to avoid future costs of more than $20 million.

During the previous legislative session, a group of politicians pushed through an amendment to gut funding for our Government Oversight Agency during the middle of the night. There was no public notice and no legislative hearing. Maine taxpayers had no idea until the next day that politicians voted to de-fund this important state agency.

That’s wrong, and it cannot continue. That’s why I’m submitting the Bill Check Act as soon as I get to Augusta.

The Bill Check Act requires every single bill, and proposed changes to bills, to be posted online for at least 72 hours before the Legislature takes any action. This requirement gives Maine people an opportunity to read what laws politicians propose, and ask any questions or voice any concerns to elected officials in advance of a vote.

Laws should not be passed in the shadows. Politicians should not save their controversial proposals for the middle of the night when you have no chance to ask questions or react. The Bill Check Act will end politicians’ secret governing, and put you in a stronger position to hold your officials accountable.

I’m running for state Senate to turn Maine’s Legislature into the citizen Legislature we imagine it could be. Our government will never truly be accountable to the people unless the people are in charge.

The Tax Check Act, the Debt Check Act and the Bill Check Act are my immediate priorities. Government has been hidden from you for too long. If you elect me to serve you in the Maine Senate, I’ll fight to finally create a true citizen Legislature once and for all.

Mike Thibodeau, a Winterport resident, is in his second term as the representative in the Legislature for House District 42 (comprised of Brooks, Jackson, Monroe, Swanville, Waldo and Winterport). He is the Republican candidate for the state Senate District 23 seat, which represents all of Waldo County.