Friday, March 7, 2014
SKOWHEGAN -- Two-term incumbent Democrat Jeff McCabe is seeking re-election to the District 26 seat in the Maine House of Representatives. He is challenged on the ballot this year by Skowhegan Planning Board Chairman Donald Skillings, a Republican.
Both candidates agree that jobs and the economy are the most important issues facing the state, and they agree that Democrats and Republicans have worked well together recently in the Legislature. Continued bipartisanship is the hope of the future, they said.
"It appears that the statehouse accomplished a lot the past session -- most of it with bipartisan support -- to move Maine forward," Skillings said. "We are fortunate to have a Legislature that has finally moved past the type of gridlock that has plagued Congress for too long."
McCabe said bipartisanship also should apply to the governor's office, where vetoes have created a divide and actually changed votes in the House.
"Opposing parties have a duty to work together," he said. "Party leaders need to be able to work on each issue individually and not question each other's motives."
McCabe said he wants to work with House Republicans to address taxes and public assistance programs by looking at how all state taxes -- property, income, sales, excise -- have an impact on Maine people.
"I am running for office to continue to stand up for Maine working families in Augusta and wherever the fight brings me," McCabe said of his campaign. "The best way to move forward is to roll up our sleeves and take on comprehensive tax reform that re-evaluates all taxes in Maine so that everyone pays their fair share and working- and middle-class Mainers have more money in their pockets."
McCabe said public assistance programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, known as TANF, and general assistance should be geared to providing emergency help for people in need and to returning people to work. The state should continue to support child care and Headstart programs so that children do not lack opportunity and education because of homelessness and poverty, he said.
McCabe said the state should market its assets better to attract new business to the state.
"Bonds for research and development will help attract clean manufacturing businesses and employers who offer good paying jobs with benefits," he said. "Infrastructure improvements and lower energy costs would also help attract business to Maine."
Skillings said he is running for office to fight for small businesses in Maine by decreasing regulations and the overall expense of doing business in Maine.
"I believe Maine and the United States are at the edge of a fiscal cliff and we are getting far too close to the edge," he said. "We cannot continue to create jobs on borrowed federal money, bailouts and publicly funded grants. Lower energy costs would promote expansion in Maine."
Skillings said the state can attract new business with some new ideas. He said electricity in the Midwest costs 5.9 cents per kilowatt-hour while in Maine the the cost is nearly 12 cents per kwh, which equates to more expense, less investment and fewer jobs.
"Maine is a very expensive state to live, own and operate a small business in. The additional money it takes to meet taxation, regulation and mandates could be better spent on increasing production thus increasing high-paying jobs," he said. "We need to lower energy costs to manufacturers through the lowering of the green energy mandates and allow Mainers to purchase hydropower from Canada. We also must insist that as the state looks at a natural gas line contract, it includes being installed in Skowhegan."
If elected, Skillings said, he would work to create new private sector jobs. He said running two businesses in Skowhegan and making payroll for 15 families has prepared him for the job of state representative.
Doug Harlow -- 612-2367