Q&A: Gubernatorial candidates explain where they stand on the issues
Alan Caron (I), Terry Hayes (I), Janet Mills (D) and Shawn Moody (R) explain how they feel about some of the biggest issues facing Maine, including Medicaid expansion, Home Care referendum, education, reducing student debt, and reducing Maine's income tax.
Author: Don Carrigan
Published: 2:12 PM EDT October 17, 2018
Updated: 11:46 PM EDT October 17, 2018

Q&A: Gubernatorial candidates explain where they stand on the issues

Chapter 1

Watch Wednesday's Gubernatorial Debate LIVE starting at 7 p.m.

Chapter 2

Do you support Medicaid expansion, and how would you create a plan to pay the state share of the cost?

Alan Caron (I): Yes. I would pay for it by growing the economy and streamlining government, which would allow the state to direct more resources to health care.

Terry Hayes (I): The Hayes administration will implement the will of Maine voters and accept the federal funds available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to expand MaineCare. This will provide insurance coverage to nearly 70,000 of our working poor, and in turn these Mainers will be able to access regular doctor’s visits, vaccinations, and other forms of preventive care as well as addiction treatment and counseling. At the same time, the Hayes administration will take full advantage of the ACA’s opportunities to muscle down on costs through innovation, expanding access to more cost-effective home and community-based services, and focusing on wellness, prevention, and quality of life.The current level of MaineCare reimbursement rates and the inability of the Maine Legislature to fix this problem is creating a crisis for families and providers across Maine. Maine has set the MaineCare reimbursement rate for hospitals at a rate that covers about 72% of the actual cost of treating these patients in a Maine hospital. The resulting underpayments shift costs to commercial payers and contribute to almost half of Maine hospitals operating with negative operating margins and potential nursing home closures. This system of persistent under-reimbursement is unsustainable. The Hayes administration will work with all providers and with the Legislature to devise solutions that lower the overall costs and increase the reimbursement rates.

Janet Mills (D): Health care is vital to thousands of people, businesses, and so many others across the state, which is why I agree with members of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce that Medicaid expansion is good for business and good for the people of Maine. Like many Mainers, I have had enough of the Chief Executive standing in the way of Medicaid expansion and obstructing the will of the people. Medicaid expansion will provide cost effective, preventive care and improve our workforce. It will inject millions of dollars into our economy. It will create jobs, lower health care costs and keep our rural hospitals open. I am the only candidate who has found funding for Medicaid expansion ($35 million). The money is there, and if elected, I will implement the law immediately. From the health of our people to the health of our economy, there is too much at stake not to do this.

Shawn Moody (R): Medicaid expansion is the law of the land. I will implement and enforce the law with a sustainable and responsible funding plan from the Legislature. It is the constitutional responsibility of the Legislature to appropriate the funds required for expansion. I do not believe that a sustainable or responsible funding plan requires raising taxes, raiding the state’s rainy day fund, or using other one-time budget gimmicks. We cannot jeopardize the long-term, fiscal health of the state. We need to get all stakeholders around the table to develop a plan. Moving forward, I am committed to tackling the tough issues facing Maine and to building a strong safety net for our most vulnerable populations, including those that are on wait lists for services with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Chapter 3

Do you support the November referendum Question One, the Home Care referendum?

Terry Hayes (I): No

Alan Caron (I): No

Janet Mills (D): I had to find home health care for my father, my mother, my mother-in-law, and, more recently, my husband, who passed away four years ago following a stroke and lengthy illness. This issue is very personal to me. At the same time, I have read the proposed law in detail and cannot support it. The referendum creates an autonomous nine-member board that is not accountable to the taxpayers, the people, or lawmakers. The proposal would also provide home health care for the very rich who can already afford it, and I do not believe that is necessary. I am also concerned that the bill does not have the support of AARP or the Home Care and Hospice Alliance of Maine. I recognize that we have an aging population and addressing this issue is critical, but I think we need to look at other ways of achieving the goals laid out in this bill before we move in this fairly dramatic direction. I would like to see what other states, like Washington, have done to provide more home health services with their Medicaid waiver.

Shawn Moody (R): No, I do not support Question 1 on the November ballot. This question has been written in a disingenuous way - as we have seen time and time again with these ballot initiatives. It is critical that we support services for seniors and persons with disabilities, but we cannot continue to punish people with higher taxes. Higher taxes will not help grow our economy, or provide better paying job opportunities for Maine people. Our number one challenge is to attract talent here to Maine, and increasing income taxes on Mainers is will be counterproductive in our goals to recruit and retain talent.

Chapter 4

What is the most important step Maine could take to control health care costs?

Alan Caron (I): We need price transparency for consumers. Prices for routine medical services, such as MRIs and infusions, vary widely for the same quality of care. Maine consumers have the right to shop for health care, but they can only do so if they can compare prices. I will set up a mechanism that rewards consumers for choosing more affordable options.

Terry Hayes (I): Spending more on health care doesn’t mean Mainers are getting healthier – in fact, it often means the opposite. If we were healthier overall, Maine could spend less on healthcare. We can reduce what we each pay individually for our own care – and what we pay collectively – if we help people stay healthier and prioritize preventing chronic disease before it starts. The Hayes Administration will work with stakeholders to devise a public health plan for Maine, drawing on successes from Maine’s business community to educate and motivate individuals to live healthier lives. People across Maine face prohibitive prescription drug expenses. Through smarter buying and evaluating whether certain drugs are worth the price, Maine can follow the lead of New York and Massachusetts by demanding fair pricing and discounts from drug makers. For example, New York identified 30 drugs just this year that were priced too high, and those drug manufacturers agreed to deep discounts, resulting in about 60 million dollars in annual savings.

Janet Mills (D): The most immediate step we can take is to expand Medicaid which will result in a $500 million shot in the arm to Maine’s economy, lowering health care costs for all Maine people by reducing the cost shift of uncompensated care onto high insurance premiums. I also will work to provide more health care options, improve pricing transparency for medical procedures so consumers can shop for the best deal, negotiate for lower prescription drug prices, and rebuild Maine’s crumbling public health infrastructure -- all of which will help control health care costs.

Shawn Moody (R): I would work to bring back successful Maine reforms, overridden by Washington, that increase competition, allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines and lower costs for Maine people. My administration would fight tirelessly to protect insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions to ensure they have access to affordable health insurance. We also need to tackle the high costs of delivering health care by providing transparency so customers can compare prices between Maine hospitals for non-emergency services and treatments. I would also look at creative ways to reduce medical supply waste which drives up costs.

Chapter 5

Does Maine need to increase funding for higher education?

Alan Caron (I): No. Maine needs a higher education system that is better coordinated and functions more efficiently. We need to think about the university and college systems as a fully integrated system.

Terry Hayes (I): Maine needs a strategic and long-term plan to provide consistent and adequate state support for public higher education. Our community colleges and public universities will be responsible for delivering the majority of the credentials needed in skilled trades, tech industries, and other professional-service sectors. Finishing high school might once have provided enough education to find employment that pays well, but globalization and automation are decimating those jobs.

Janet Mills (D): Right now, the costs of attending a public college in Maine have risen while state funding has remained essentially flat, resulting in higher tuition and higher student debt loans that hinder the chances of students to succeed after they graduate. As governor, I will work with the Legislature to allocate more state funding towards the university and the community college system, and I will work the higher education system to streamline overhead and ensure that every dollar is spent effectively and efficiently.

Shawn Moody (R): I believe that we need to do a comprehensive, in-depth review of Maine’s budget. We need to create an evaluation system for every program that is funded by taxpayers, using a set of 5 to 10 metrics to measure the effectiveness of the program. Initiatives that are performing well need to be resourced to scale. Programs that are inefficient or that are not delivering intended results need to be reformed or removed, and we need to direct those resources to initiatives that have proven results. I believe we need to include every department in this effort, and that will be my approach to funding agencies across state government.

Chapter 6

Does Maine need to help higher ed. graduates reduce student debt?

Alan Caron (I): Yes. As Governor, I will support two years of no-cost college and vocational school for those who live in Maine after they complete their education at a state university or community college. It’s a deal they make with the state of Maine, where their student debts will be forgiven if they live and work in Maine for ten years after graduation. The new economy of the 21st century is going to require more skills and training than in the past, and the notion of what is public education and what is personal responsibility is going to need to change.

Terry Hayes (I): Changes in employment and the shifting of jobs among industries have led to a change in the skills demanded by Maine employers. The fastest rate of job growth is expected in occupations with the highest education requirements, and Maine currently has a post-secondary education attainment level below the requirements of these jobs of the future. When it comes to higher education, affordability is vital. Low-income students used to be able to go college for close to free but now an estimated 240,000 Mainers hold a total of $6.6 billion in student loan debt (approximately $28,000 per loan-holder). Terry commends the University System for launching a promising program at four campuses to cover fees and tuition for low-income Maine students and, although she believes that students should have some “skin in the game,” her Administration will study the promise program and the feasibility of lowering other financial barriers to attending school beyond high school (whether at our public community colleges or universities) so that students are not left with crippling debt.

Janet Mills (D): Student debt is crushing our graduates and forcing them to leave Maine for higher paying jobs. I will work to reduce the burden of student debt and forgive state income taxes for students who graduate from an institution in Maine and who live and work in the state for five years afterward. Doing this will give students a financial break while also encouraging young people to stay in the state. Additionally, I will boost the Maine State Grant Program, which provides grants to Maine students, and simplify and streamline the Opportunity Maine program.

Shawn Moody (R): I was the first person to ever serve on both of the University of Maine System board and the Community College board. During my time on the board, we worked to reduce $80 million in back-office operations from the University of Maine. We need to continue to encourage our higher education institutions to become efficient and reduce costs. We also worked to get both the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College system to work together to allow credit transfers between the systems which lowers the costs for students. I think providing tuition reimbursement along with student loan forgiveness are important ways to keep young people in Maine, as well as attract people to move to Maine. However, we must continue to work on lowering the cost of higher education as well.

Chapter 7

Do you support increased funding for K-12 education?

Alan Caron (I): Yes. I support increasing the state share of education costs to 55 percent as voters requested, as long as the additional funds go only into the classroom.

Terry Hayes (I): The core mission of our pre K-12 education system is teaching and learning. The two most important resources to fulfill this core mission are teachers and instructional time. Terry will advocate for professional salaries for our teachers - a starting teacher with a family of three shouldn’t qualify for public assistance. Doing this will increase state funds for public education. Terry will also advocate for refocusing the school day to ensure that instructional time is protected. We can continue to deliver other support and social services at school (because that’s where the children are), but outside the instructional day.

Janet Mills (D): Unlike Shawn Moody, I do not believe Maine schools are “overfunded”. In fact, I think the state needs to work towards achieving the 55 percent funding demanded by the voters years ago, not continue to shirk it. Doing so will help provide a better education for Maine students, reduce the financial burden our teachers are taking on, and improve deteriorating schools. Achieving this goal is about providing Maine students with equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of their zip code.

Shawn Moody (R): Maine spends the least amount of money, of all New England states, per pupil, in the classroom. We have the second highest per pupil expenditures in New England for general administration. I would support reforms within our K-12 public education system to reduce administrative overhead and put more money into higher wages for teachers and into the classroom. We need to encourage local school districts to work together on issues like purchasing supplies, providing bussing, improving infrastructure, and streamlining back office operations. It’s not right that teachers have to spend their own money to buy classroom supplies.

Chapter 8

What is the most important step Maine can take to help build and better train our workforce?

Alan Caron (I): We need to re-introduce technical training to the K-12 education system. Also, my proposal to provide two years of no-cost college or vocational education would improve people’s skills and boost productivity.

Terry Hayes (I): The lead constraint to economic growth in Maine is our demographics. More than any tax breaks, loan programs or other incentives, a plentiful supply of skilled and productive workers will keep businesses here and draw new businesses to Maine. It is in our shared interest for state government to play a leadership role in matching our education and lifelong training resources with the needs of our businesses. Maine has made progress in breaking down the barriers between academic and technical education at the secondary level, without lowering academic standards. We are seeing an increase in partnerships between private employers and colleges. The joint efforts of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Educate Maine to double student participation in vocational programs by 2020 appear promising. These combined efforts are aimed at the state’s fastest growing sectors and most sought-after employees (welders, electricians, HVAC installers, precision machinists, police officers, licensed practical nurses, carpenters and auto technicians). The Hayes Administration will look to support this work. We need to continue to build on the good work of Maine’s adult education programs which serve 75 locations across the state to increase the availability of classes to new Mainers in English language acquisition and workforce training and draw legal immigrants to areas where there are worker shortages. Maine’s adult education centers provide vital resources for adult learners, linking public schools and advanced training and education at Maine’s community colleges and university campuses, providing remedial math and literacy coursework that enable adult learners to succeed in college and teaching the skills required for higher-performing and higher-paid jobs. Programs such as the KV Academy, a Maine College Transition Program, help with prerequisite courses and make a specialized academic advisor available to all students.

Janet Mills (D): Addressing our state’s workforce challenge will be one of my top priorities as governor. I will ensure the state is a partner to business when it comes to finding and training workers, not just another bureaucratic impediment. I have proposed refining and refocusing state programs to make it easier for workers to obtain the training they need, and to match education and training curriculum to the workforce needs of today. I am also proposing establishing a “Targeted Training Team” of workforce consultants who will plan for and financially support the training needs of any business trying to add a new job. I am the only candidate in the race who has put forward a comprehensive economic action plan to grow Maine’s workforce. I will also expand educational opportunities for Maine students to meet the workforce needs of today and tomorrow, including building vocational tech courses, bonding for new equipment for the career technical education schools, and expanding computer sciences curricula. By expanding educational opportunities, by closing the skills gap through proper training, and by effectively connecting people to businesses, we will improve our skilled workforce, employ more people, support business, and grow our economy.

Shawn Moody (R): I am the only candidate in this race with over 40 years of executive experience creating jobs and growing Maine’s economy. As Governor, I will reform our career technical education and vocational education programs to ensure that students have an opportunity to learn about careers in the trades earlier, and that these programs produce the skills sets needed to secure good paying jobs. I would also spearhead a program to strategically reach out to our former Mainers, and attract them to come home to Maine to live, work and raise their families. Tuition reimbursement and student loan forgiveness are creative ways to incentivize people to come home to Maine. Lastly, we need to reform our laws to make it easier for teenagers to get back into the workforce. I would favor providing tax credits to employers who hire teenagers to work in their facilities, which encourages apprenticeships and mentorships for our young people.

Chapter 9

Do you support further reductions in Maine's income tax?

Alan Caron (I): Yes. Cuts to state income tax should occur over time after we find efficiencies in government and increase revenues by growing the economy. When you do those two things, you can lower income taxes.

Terry Hayes (I): Yes, I would like to see reductions in Maine’s income tax. If Maine is to be both a great place to live and a great place to make a living, we need a strategy and a plan to make it so. The state’s long-range plan will include aligning the state’s tax code with our twenty-first-century economy so that individuals, families, and businesses contribute fairly and benefit proportionally.

Janet Mills (D): Just as I have throughout my career, I will always protect Maine taxpayers’ dollars and ensure that they are used efficiently and effectively. I hear many more complaints about property taxes than about income taxes. Over the past several years, people across the state have endured rising property taxes as a result of Governor LePage’s cuts to revenue sharing. I will reverse these cuts and work for property tax relief while also ensuring that other taxes do not stifle the ability of Maine to grow and prosper.

Shawn Moody (R): Yes. Maine ranked among the top 5 states in America with the highest tax burden this past year. We need to continue reducing taxes for hardworking Maine families and small businesses. Over the past 8 years, reductions in the Maine income tax have resulted in record-high income tax revenues of $1.6 billion in fiscal year 18. Lowering taxes will help grow our economy, and provide higher paying jobs for Maine people.