On The Issues
Get to know the issues Matt Pouliot stands for in Augusta.
As co-chair of the Maine Children’s Caucus, I view education as the most important area of policy for state government. I believe that every child in Maine should have access to high quality public education. For too many years now, the quality of education that many children receive has often been dictated by the zip code they grow up in. It is not always the case, but it is true that more affluent communities in Maine can often afford to pay teachers more money. Oftentimes teachers will move to districts that have the means to pay more. I don’t think this should happen. That is why I think we as a state need to commit to ensuring that there are great teachers in every classroom. A revolving door isn’t good for the profession and it isn’t good for the kids.
I am a huge supporter of early childhood education. Laying the groundwork early, while the brain is still developing, is vital to the long term success of each child in our state. Studies show that access to high quality, early childhood education increases graduation rates and reduces incarceration rates – saving the state money in the long run. The Children’s Caucus has conducted several meetings with national thought leaders on this topic, and have even welcomed many members of our law enforcement and military community to speak about the importance of early childhood education. Through this work we have been able to pass many measures to help advance the goal of greater access to high quality early learning opportunities.
I also believe that we need to do more to support technical education in Maine. I grew up in Kennebec County and attended public schools. When I got to high school, I often found myself unchallenged by the traditional classroom environment. For me, vocational school was the pathway that led to success in my educational journey. That wouldn’t of happened without the change in environment. We need to work to rid the negative stigma of a vocational education and support multiple pathways of learning for today’s students.
Maine is fortunate to have record low unemployment. However, this comes with its own set of challenges. Many businesses, particularly in the trade and service industries, are struggling to find properly trained workers.
I believe that a strong workforce starts with a strong education, and I have always and will always stand up for Maine’s public schools. As part of our approach to education, I also believe that we need to embrace all skillsets, helping students who have a talent for the trades obtain an education that lets them earn a good living putting their skills to use. That’s why I’ve been a strong supporter of Career and Technical Education.
As we look to the future, more and more jobs will require knowledge in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) sectors. Through encouraging improved and expanded STEM education in Maine schools, we can help our state achieve a bright future with a highly prepared workforce.
Maine is at a critical juncture. We are the oldest state in the nation, and many in the workforce are nearing the end of their careers. With many young people still leaving Maine to find work, it will only become harder and harder to fill open jobs with qualified workers. That’s why I believe it is crucial that we incentivize young people to stay in Maine, and to move here.
In the House, I proposed legislation to create a tax credit for people who have completed a post-secondary degree. The legislation would allow anyone who graduated after 2007 to get a dollar for dollar credit for debt paid, and this offer would extend to the employer as well in an effort to help recruit and retain employees. I believe that this kind of approach, coupled with a continued emphasis on marketing our state and its opportunities can truly help us turn around the demographic and workforce problems that we face as a state.
Maine’s natural resources are one of our most important assets. Here in Kennebec County, we have the Kennebec River, countless lakes and wooded spots for exploring. Across the state, we’re blessed with vast forests, rivers, lakes, and our famous coast. So many Mainers depend on our natural resources to make a living, and millions of tourists pour into the state each year to enjoy the beauty of our state. Families have long-held traditions – hunting, fishing, boating – that rely on the health of our environment.
As your State Senator, I will continue to stand up for protecting Maine’s natural resources so that future generations will have the same opportunities to enjoy the outdoors that we, and generations past, have had.
One of the ways in which I believe we can help protect our environment is through the use of renewable resources for energy.
We also need to work to lower energy costs in Maine overall. Too many families have to dig too deep into their wallets to pay their bills, and our economy is held back when businesses have to contend with high energy costs. In the Senate, I will work for policies that help lower energy costs for all Mainers.
Too many Mainers have to worry about access to affordable health care. It’s an issue that affects people of all ages, from young families to senior citizens. That’s why in the Maine House I worked across the aisle to try to reach compromise and find a solution to help increase access to affordable health care for thousands of Mainers.
I believe that healthcare is far too important to be a partisan issue. To find solutions that work for Mainers, elected officials need to work together and be willing to explore creative ideas and options from all corners.
Among the healthcare cost-saving measures I have supported in the House that are now law are:
- A measure that lowers healthcare costs by encouraging comparison shopping through shared savings incentives
- Legislation that aims to lower the cost of prescription medications through encouraging increased production of generic medications.
To build on these achievements, one of my priorities as a State Senator will be to stop the practice of using “gag clauses” that prevent pharmacists from telling patients about options they may have to pay less for their medications.
As your State Senator, I will continue to work for solutions that bring down the cost of health care, and help bring Mainers peace of mind. Mainers work hard to earn a paycheck, and no one should have to choose between paying for health care and paying for other necessities.
When I talk to constituents, one of the biggest concerns I hear is about property taxes. As a member of the Legislature’s Taxation Committee, I know this concern is widespread across the state and is an issue that elected officials grapple with on the municipal and state levels.
I am concerned that seniors are having to make tough choices between paying their taxes and paying for other necessities, and that young families may be putting off buying a home because they are fearful of the tax burden. Maine needs to take a hard look at property taxes and how we can ease the burden on citizens.
One of the ways in which we have made progress in recent years is through the expansion of the Homestead Exemption. I have consistently supported expanding this important exemption, and am pleased that it is now at $20,000, double where it was for 2016.
In the Senate, I will continue to work hard to lower the overall tax burden on Mainers. We have made progress in recent years, but I believe we can still put more money back in the pockets of the people who work so hard to earn it.
According to the 2010 Census, the median age of Maine’s population is more than 42 years (median age is the age where half the population is older and the other half is younger). That makes Maine the oldest state in the nation.
One reason Maine is the oldest is because our young people leave to find better employment opportunities in other states. As I described earlier, improving the environment for small businesses is one solution for creating jobs, but I think there is another solution that is just as important.
I believe that providing young people skills that match the needs of our community will not only help keep them in Maine, it will help improve the quality of life for Maine’s entire population. Keeping our young people in Maine is good for our tax base and, because young people tend to be healthier, they will play a key role in reducing our health insurance costs.
As a product of Maine schools, I believe in our university and community college systems. As your Senator, I will work to make sure we invest appropriately in our post secondary institutions so that tuitions are affordable and that they are able to offer skills that matter to Maine.
While I have my own ideas about how best to solve some of Maine’s problems, I’m a listener and I would love to hear your good ideas, too. We are faced with an opportunity in this election – an opportunity to elect proven, thought driven leadership with experience in bringing legislators from all sides together to get things done. With your help, I can be your trusted voice in Augusta.
Please feel free to contact me by phone at (207) 441-9418 or by email at PouliotForSenate@gmail.com.