For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - Constituents of Rep. Deborah Sanderson, by a 70 percent to 30 percent margin, say lawmakers should focus more on cutting taxes than on preserving public benefits. By the same margin, they favor realigning MaineCare benefits with national averages through the elimination of optional services.
Those are a couple of results from a survey of residents of District 52, which includes Chelsea, part of Jefferson, Somerville, Washington and Whitefield, plus the unorganized territory of Hibberts Gore.
"I'm grateful to everyone who completed the questionnaire," said Rep. Sanderson (R-Chelsea). "As a first-term legislator, it's important that I stay in touch with the opinions of folks in my district on the many issues we deal with, especially those issues that are evolving.
"This is not a scientific survey," she added, "but it shows that many people are tuned in to what's happening in the Legislature. I was surprised by the lopsided outcome of a question asking if cutting taxes was more important than preserving public benefits. It shows that people understand that Maine's tax burden remains high and our welfare costs are out of line with national norms."
The questionnaire covered a range of issues, including transportation. By a 65 to 35 percent margin, survey respondents favor the establishment of a Secondary Roads Fund by increasing the annual fee for a vanity registration plate from $25 to $35. Rep. Sanderson supported that initiative, LD 1367, which passed the House and Senate and was signed by the governor.
Seventy-five percent of participating residents favor transferring 20 percent of the sales and use tax on motor vehicles and parts to the Highway Fund for bridge and highway work. The bill, LD 52, was passed by the House and enactment is pending in the Senate. Its fate will be determined by the Appropriations Committee, which will decide if the General Fund can sustain the lost revenue.
Seventy percent of district residents also favor 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 maintained 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, Maine will be reimbursed the $60,000. A bill authorizing the expenditure has been signed into law.
On energy, 63 percent of respondents favor authorizing a bond issue for distribution system projects to expand the supply of natural gas in the state. That bill, LD 1644, has been signed into law by the governor. By 53 percent to 47 percent, residents support increasing the amount of wood pellets qualifying for residential use from 200 pounds to 2,000 pounds. This change would extend the sales tax exemption to pellet purchases up to 2,000 pounds. The measure passed the House and now awaits action by the Appropriations Committee. ###
Maine House Republicans
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