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Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea)
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For Immediate Release

Date: 12/04/13

Survey: Capital-Area Residents Want Less Spending, More Welfare Reform

Rep. Deb Sanderson releases results of constituent survey; fiscal issues top list

AUGUSTA - State Representative Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea) on Monday released the results of her constituent survey, which was mailed to every household in House District 52. Rep. Sanderson's district includes the towns of Chelsea, Somerville, Washington, Whitefield, part of Jefferson, and the unorganized territory of Hibberts Gore. The 11-question survey garnered 147 responses—an average sized sample for a House district.

"This survey allows me to listen to my neighbors and get a sense of what their priorities are," said Rep. Sanderson. "Whether it's an e-mail or a conversation at the grocery store or these survey responses, I always try to seek out the advice and opinions of the people I represent."

In one question, respondents were asked, "What do you consider to be the most critical issues concerning Maine citizens?" and given nine issues to rank in order of importance, with the choices being health insurance, welfare reform, education, business attraction, reducing state spending, tax reform, transportation, energy costs, and "other." The top three most important issues to capital-area residents were welfare reform (first), reducing state spending (second), and health insurance (third).

More specifically on welfare reform, another question asked respondents if they would support a bill that would exclude junk food from eligible food stamp purchases. An overwhelming 79 percent supported that measure, which was killed by Democratic leadership this year but may come up again.

Residents of Sanderson's district, which lays to the east of Augusta, showed a fiscally conservative streak. To the question, "do you think the state's budget problems are caused by too much spending or not enough revenue," 72 percent of respondents believed spending is the problem.

The question of welfare expansion under ObamaCare was closer, with 55 percent answering "no" to the question, "Do you approve of expanding Medicaid to 70,000 more people in Maine?" Maine has the third-highest Medicaid enrollment in the nation and its Medicaid spending has doubled as a share of the state budget over the past 15 years, causing massive shortfalls.

Capital-area residents also supported pro-business, pro-growth measures such as workplace freedom, or "Right to Work," which would prevent unions from forcing workers to pay dues if they don't want to be a member. A full 67 percent of residents supported that policy, which has produced faster wage growth and more jobs in the 26 states that have adopted it.

Similarly, 73 percent opposed repealing the law, passed during the Republican-controlled legislature of 2011-2012, that lifted the statewide ban on fireworks and left that decision up to municipalities.

A few issues garnered near-unanimous support, including a measure to require public high schools to allow military recruiters to wear their uniforms while visiting (91 percent approval) and the direct farmer-to-consumer sale of items such as raw milk (97 percent approval).

"We have a busy session ahead of us in January through April of next year, and many of these issues—from balancing the budget to welfare reform to improving the economy—will be front and center and will receive my full support," added Rep. Sanderson. "I look forward to this opportunity to make Maine a better, more prosperous state for our children and grandchildren."

Rep. Deb Sanderson, who works at the Maine Veterans' Home when not serving in the legislature, sits on the Health and Human Services Committee and is currently in her second term. She can be reached at deb.sanderson2010@gmail.com.

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David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793