For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - Residents of State Rep. Aaron Libby's legislative district expressed strong support for the east-west highway feasibility study, for efforts to prevent unemployment insurance abuse and for welfare reform. They also would reject the bond initiatives that have been proposed.
Those were some of the results of a constituent survey mailed to residents of District 139, which includes Waterboro and part of Lyman. "I'm grateful for all those who took the time to complete the survey," said Rep. Libby, a first-term Republican legislator. "It's important for citizens to let their representatives know where they stand on the issues, and I was gratified to see that their priorities and mine lined up so closely."
The most overwhelming response came on a question asking if people receiving unemployment compensation should be required to seek work and report their job search efforts, or else risk loss of benefits. By 96 percent to 4 percent, survey respondents said yes. That requirement became law when Gov. LePage signed LD 1725, which Rep. Libby supported. The measure narrowly passed the House, 74-72.
On a question regarding achievements from the Legislature's First Regular Session, 29 percent said welfare reform was the most important, followed by tax cuts at 25 percent. Pension reform was rated most important by 17 percent, regulatory reform by 15 percent and health insurance reform by 14 percent.
"All five of these accomplishments made fundamental changes to improve the lives of Mainers and strengthen the state's financial stability," said Rep. Libby. "It's hard to rank them unless you're very familiar with the issues. The public pension changes, for example, reduced the system's debt by $1.6 billion and will save taxpayers more than $3 billion over the next 16 years."
Another question asked which issues were most important overall. Here again, 26 percent listed welfare reform, trailed by health insurance reform (18 percent), education (16 percent), the environment (15 percent) and regulatory reform (14 percent). "No matter how we asked the question," Rep. Libby said, "welfare reform was always right at the top."
By 63 percent to 37 percent, respondents favored the elimination of the matching funds provision of the Maine Clean Elections Act, funded mostly by the taxpayers. The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that matching funds violated the Constitution's free speech provisions, and the Legislature voted to cut off these costly additions to the normal funds that "clean" candidates receive. This keeps the system within the law, and at the same time, will save large amounts of money as the state is wrestling with revenue shortfalls.
Another strong majority, 77 percent to 23 percent, favors transferring 20 percent of the sales and use tax on motor vehicles and parts to the Highway Fund to repair roads and bridges. That plan passed the Legislature as LD 52 and currently sits on the Special Appropriations Table, where its impact on the General Fund will determine its fate.
District residents took a dim view on borrowing more money. The survey listed five bond proposals, including those for research and development ($50 million), the Mountain Division rail line ($21 million), weatherization and energy efficiency ($55 million) and the LifeFlight Foundation ($640,000).
The only proposal that topped 30 percent support was a $50 million bond for road and bridge capital projects with matching federal funds. Only 32 percent favored that bond issue, None of the others garnered more than 20 percent support. ###
Maine House Republicans
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