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Rep. Joyce Maker (R-Calais)
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Room 332, State House
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Augusta, Maine 04333-0002


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For Immediate Release

Date: 05/09/12

Rep. Maker's survey shows support for MaineCare benefit changes

AUGUSTA - Residents of Rep. Joyce Maker's legislative district think that MaineCare has reached a size that cannot be sustained, that public school students should be allowed to enroll in any school that has room, and that the Department of Education should develop protocols for head injuries to high school athletes. By 70 percent to 30 percent, they also rejected the idea of transferring money from other government programs to fill chronic shortfalls at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Those are some results of a 12-question survey sent to residents of District 31, which includes Baileyville, Baring, Calais, Charlotte, Indian Township, Pleasant Point, Perry and Robbinston.

"I'm grateful to all those who took the time to complete this short questionnaire," said Rep. Maker (R-Calais). "It's important for legislators to stay current with constituents' views on evolving issues. This is not a scientific survey, but it's an indication of what people think about some of the matters we deal with in Augusta."

Several of the items dealt with MaineCare, the state's name for Medicaid. Since 2002, MaineCare enrollment has grown significantly, to at least 317,000. By 73 percent to 27 percent, respondents think the program has reached an unsustainable level. By 66 percent to 34 percent, they said MaineCare benefits should be aligned with national averages through the elimination of optional services. That issue may be resolved in a new supplemental budget.

Regarding schools, 72 percent said they would support a bill that would allow open enrollment, whereby schools may accept students who apply from other districts if they have room. By 70 percent to 30 percent, however, residents opposed using state funds for tuition at religious schools.

Sixty-nine percent support the adoption of a policy for Maine schools regarding management of head injuries in school athletic activities. A bill directing the Commissioner of Education to develop a policy was passed by the Legislature as LD 1873. Its fate depends on a decision by the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee as to whether the state will have the funds to implement it.

Area residents broke more evenly on other questions. For example, by 56 percent to 44 percent, they supported spending $300,000 for a feasibility study of an east-west highway. The road, which could run from Calais to Coburn Gore, would be built with private money and sustained through tolls. Maine's share of the $300,000 study is $60,000, with the rest covered by the federal government. If a contract to build the road goes forward, the state will be reimbursed the $60,000. A bill authorizing the expenditure has been signed into law. ###

Contact:
Jay Finegan
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 287-1445