Miller: 'Put distractions aside'
Courier Publications reporters and editors came up with a list of questions for candidates based in part on concerns raised by members of the public in "Heard on the Street" interviews. The questions were posed to candidates via email.
Lisa Miller is seeking a seat in the House of Representatives in District 52 serving Chelsea, part of Jefferson, Somerville, Washington and Whitefield, plus the unorganized territory of Hibberts Gore. The seat currently is held by Rep. Deborah Sanderson of Chelsea.
Miller was born, raised, and largely educated in northern California. She has lived in Somerville since 1980. Miller has a bachelor’s degree in human biology and master’s degree in public health. She has worked in the health field for many years, trying to improve the health of Maine’s population as a whole. The last 15 years have been spent as a program officer for a small Maine-based philanthropy group that gives out grants to improve health and healthcare.
Miller has been married to Roy Miller for 39 years. Roy Miller is the founding physician at Sheepscot Valley Health Center in Coopers Mills. The couple has three children: Nathan, 30, Brian, 27, and Terry, 24. Nathan and his wife Amber have a 3-year-old son named Isaiah.
Why are you running?
Augusta needs to put distractions aside and refocus on jobs, the economy, and a positive future for Maine, not divisive partisan agendas. Too much time has been spent on policies that erode the security of middle class families. As a representative, I will work across the aisle on issues that concern our small communities: job development, small business growth, quality schools, affordable health care and property taxes.
What government services, if any, do you feel should be privatized?
We ought to get out of the liquor business entirely.
What services do you feel need to be protected from budget cuts?
Services that ensure a stable and successful future for our children as they enter school (particularly those at risk) such as Head Start, child care and home visiting.
Prevention services funded through the Fund for Healthy Maine (which is not tax money) that help hold down future health care costs, particularly in Medicaid.
What services that are private now should be taken on by the government?
Areas where bulk purchasing or contracting can reduce costs, e.g. it might be cheaper to have a state program that leases temporary classrooms to school districts, rather than have each separate district build/lease them.
Mitt Romney has proposed kicking Medicaid costs back to the states to administer and cutting federal funds for them. Would you support this plan, and how do you think it would impact state government and taxes?
I do not support this as it would transfer a huge amount of cost back down to the states — Maine gets two federal dollars for each state dollar of Medicaid spending. Health care solutions should move more toward national solutions and responsibility, as in other countries.
What is your position on women's health issues including insurance coverage for contraceptives and the option of having abortions to terminate unwanted pregnancies?
I support insurance coverage for the full range of reproductive health services.
We have seen a push, particularly from Republicans, for more showing of identification at the polls. What are your thoughts on balancing the need for preventing voter fraud with the need to provide access to citizens wishing to vote?
The unfettered and free ability to vote is one of our most treasured rights in a democracy. We need to encourage participation, not restrict it. We need to work on documented reports of fraud (not anecdotal) with specific, tailored efforts to fix problems, not blanket, overreaching laws that hurt more than help.
Why aren't there more jobs?
In the short run, we ought to be releasing the bonds that Maine voters have already approved. This would be an immediate bump in jobs for the most unemployed sector — construction.
In the long run, Maine must transition from the old manufacturing economy., which has largely left the U.S. Projections for high-wage, in-demand jobs in Maine show that some education or training past high school will be needed. We need a new workforce training vision that plans for and invests in education and training systems that equip Maine’s students with higher order skills. Workforce development may be our most important path out of this long recession and into the next economy.
What would you do for those seeking to start businesses and create jobs?
Look for new, innovative ways to give small businesses access to loans and venture capital. Ensure that they get connected to affordable health insurance options. Make stronger connections between entrepreneurs and community colleges.
How would you address the challenge of providing higher education for low and middle-income young people who cannot afford college without massive loans?
Encourage stronger curriculum pathways between community colleges and state universities. Look at tax incentives that would encourage business and industry to subsidize education for current and future workers.
How can we help Maine people transition from traditional energy sources, particularly for heat, to renewable sources?
Be more aggressive in helping Mainers, particularly the rural elderly, convert their homes to more efficient heating systems. Broaden the reach of Efficiency Maine. Encourage more LEED-certified building practices in new construction.
What should be done to protect Maine's environment and resources? Is this issue a priority for you as a candidate?
Editor's note: Miller did not respond to the question.
Do you support state government buying more land to preserve it as state parks?
On a limited basis—as affordable.
Where do you stand on campaign financing?
I am fully in support of the Maine Clean Elections Act.
What should be done about the state's welfare programs including disability benefits, MaineCare, and substance abuse treatment subsidies?
First of all, I do not consider health care to be welfare, as this question implies, and I am finding a lot of people I meet at their doorsteps who agree. There are specific, evidence-based ways to reduce healthcare costs and Maine is not yet pursuing those vigorously. We should explore whether there is an intermediate step or program we can enter people into to explore employability before processing their applications for disability.
Do you support allowing gay marriage in Maine?
How do you feel the Tea Party movement has affected local, state and federal politics and policy decisions?
There is certainly less willingness to work together and find more areas where compromise can be reached. On the federal level, it appears as if the Tea Party would rather crash government than do the hard work to make it more streamlined and effective.