Maine poll: Wide support for welfare reform, less certainty on taxes

A recent poll shows wide support for changes to Maine’s welfare system, but respondents would rather see property taxes go down than get an income tax cut.

It bodes well for the part of the Maine Republican Party’s proposed 2016 referendum to reform welfare in Maine. But there’s less certainty about the other half of that plan — to roll back the state income tax.

Those results came from a poll of 515 Mainers conducted by a Pennsylvania firm earlier this month and paid for by a political action committee run by state Sen. Tom Saviello, a moderate Republican from Wilton.

He also shared the sampling data from the poll, which was used to bolster a Sunday op-ed in the Press Herald by Lance Dutson, a Republican strategist who founded Get Right Maine, a group that has been critical of Gov. Paul LePage and some of his fire-breathing conservative supporters.

Among the high points of the poll were:

  • Welfare reform found 79 percent support. The question asked if respondents wanted the state to crack down on “inappropriate use of welfare funds” and require recipients to search for employment.
  • When asked which tax they most want to be cut, 48 percent said the property tax. Another 30 percent said the income tax, while 13 percent said sales tax.
  • LePage’s favorability rating was measured at 43 percent, which is higher than his approval marks in recent polls, but within his historic range.
  • Support for Medicaid expansion, which has been blocked by LePage, was at 58 percent. Saviello has been one of a very few Republican legislators to support Medicaid expansion. The poll question opened with the fact that early years of expansion would be heavily subsidized with federal money, framing the issue in a way that might have steered results.
  • This year’s budget compromise between legislative Republicans and Democrats was supported by 61 percent of respondents, although the question framed the issue as a choice between compromise and government shutdown. — Michael Shepherd


Eves’ lawsuit adds new charge against LePage

House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, amended his civil lawsuit against Gov. Paul LePage on Friday to add a second charge against the Republican governor.

That lawsuit, which was filed in July, accuses LePage of violating Eves’ civil rights when he threatened to withhold state funding from Good Will-Hinckley if it hired Eves as its new president. The Fairfield nonprofit rescinded the job offer after the threat.

Friday’s amendment isn’t a massive development in the case, but Eves is now accusing LePage of violating a state law prohibiting intentional interference with a contract, using remarks from LePage and testimony from legislative hearings on the topic this fall as evidence.

The governor has until January’s end to respond to the lawsuit, which probably won’t be resolved until at least 2017, according to the Portland Press Herald. — Michael Shepherd


Reading list

Nice work, ‘Glenn from Utah’

Last week, U.S. Rep. Dave Brat, R-Virginia, fell victim to “Glenn from Utah,” a prank caller on C-SPAN who wanted to know if he could defecate in the congressman’s mouth. (There’s explicit language after the link.)

The network’s open format — and the fact that it doesn’t use a delay — makes it vulnerable to prank calls, and if you have an infantile sense of humor like me, you really enjoy them.

So, here’s some more for you. (Yes, there’s more bad language.) — Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.