For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - Maine State Representative Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) recently mailed a questionnaire to each household in his district, which is comprised of Belgrade, Fayette, Manchester, Mount Vernon, and Vienna. He received 202 responses to the survey, which asked for residents' opinions on various areas of state government policy.
"One of the biggest themes I saw in the answers was that the people of my district care deeply about fiscal conservatism," said Keschl. "They are concerned about taxes, debt, and waste, and they believe that government generally overspends."
When given nine issues and asked to rank them in order of importance, state spending and health insurance tied for first place. The rest, in order from most to least important, were education, business attraction, welfare reform, transportation, tax reform, energy costs, and "other."
When asked, "Do you think the state's budget problems are caused by too much spending or not enough revenue?" 62 percent named overspending as the culprit.
Respondents were divided on the question of Medicaid expansion, with 50 percent supporting it and 50 percent opposing it. The measure would require Maine taxpayers to increase medical welfare spending by $75 million per year. Maine already has the third-highest Medicaid enrollment in the nation and faces annual budget shortfalls due to cost overruns in the program.
Maine's program of taxpayer funding for political campaigns also drew the ire of the fiscally conservative residents of the Belgrade Lakes Region, with 62 percent opposing so-called "clean elections."
"I value the feedback that these questionnaires provide," said Keschl, who serves on the state legislature's powerful Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, which is responsible for crafting the state budget. "It's important to put people before partisanship, and there are many issues that people feel very strongly about that. I always encourage my neighbors to share their opinions with me but the survey results give a birds-eye-view of what's important to my constituents."
Respondents widely agreed on a number of issues, with 80 percent in favor of allowing forest rangers to carry firearms, 65 percent supporting the recent lift of the statewide ban on fireworks, 95 percent supporting the direct sale of some agricultural products from farmers to consumers, 88 percent believing that military recruiters should be allowed to wear uniforms in high schools, and 71 percent supporting Right to Work legislation to prevent workers from being forced to pay dues if they don't want to be a union member. Studies show that the 26 Right to Work states have more wage and job growth than forced-unionism states like Maine.
The legislature will reconvene in January through April next year. Rep. Keschl can be reached by e-mail at Keschl@yahoo.com or his home phone number at (207) 495-2973.
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793