Mike Michaud – Maine Gubernatorial Candidate – Portland Buy Local Questionnaire

  1. 1.     What are your ideas for how you would support and grow state support for small business owners?

Answer: Maine’s economy is built upon our small businesses. In my Maine Made plan, I focus specifically on creating an environment in which small businesses can grow and succeed.

For example, I’ve proposed a 10-year Compact with Small Businesses, which will invest in Maine’s infrastructure, including high speed Internet, that will allow our companies to better compete and reach new markets.

I’ve also proposed the creation of the Maine Domestic Trade Center, based on the successful Maine International Trade Center. The purpose of the center is to help Maine small businesses grow and to reach new markets in New England and around the country.

Additionally, my Lifelong Consumer Initiative focuses on turning visitors to Maine into consumers of Maine-made goods once they return home. I believe that such an effort has tremendous potential to help small businesses connect with and market to the people who visit Maine.

Small businesses, like all businesses, also require stability and predictability, which has been missing for the last four years. I will take the politics out of our investment strategies and I will make sure that everyone is treated fairly and that laws and regulation are enforced predictably.

I also want to simplify interactions between small businesses and the state government. Regulation is important to protect consumers, but I want to make it easier for businesses to navigate state government. I’ll be looking to the small business community to help me identify regulations that are outdated, contradictory and ineffective and to find other ways to streamline licensing and permitting, for example.

 

  1. 2.      Would you use tax credits to create job opportunities in Maine? And, if so, how would you use them? How would you determine which types of businesses would receive them?

Answer: Maine needs to comprehensively review our tax incentives and tax expenditure programs. We should evaluate them to ensure that they are effective, and we should hold businesses accountable for the results that they promise to take advantage of the programs.

I do support tax credits as a way to encourage investment and economic growth. For example, I’ve proposed a two-year moratorium on changes to the BETR and BETE program to give businesses the stability and predictability they need to grow and expand.

I also support federal credits to help small businesses purchase health insurance, for example.

Maine has many tax credit programs, some that work very well and others that are more questionable. Overall, I think we need to review all of our tax credit programs and concentrate on those that are most effective for job creation in Maine.

  1. 3.     What are your thoughts about leveling the playing field between Maine’s local businesses and national chains and online retailers? How would you do so?

Answer: One of the most important things we can do to help small businesses compete is provide a predictable and stable regulatory environment and investment strategy, which includes supporting the expansion of broadband Internet, innovation and entrepreneurship.

 

High speed Internet can help small businesses reach markets and consumers next door and around the world. Unfortunately, Maine is far behind in this important piece of our infrastructure. We have to do a better job. We can’t be satisfied with our current 49th place ranking. That hurts businesses and consumers all of the state.

 

In my food and agriculture plan, I also propose an institutional buying program to encourage Maine schools and other parts of the public sector to buy local products.

 

I’ve also proposed a small business development and commercialization grant program, a Maine Competitive Advantage Fund and a “Maine of Tomorrow” micro-business fund, all of which will help our small business to grow and expand.

 

  1. 4.     What industries and business sectors do you see as valuable to the statewide economy?

Answer: One of the most important things we can do to help small businesses compete is provide a predictable and stable regulatory environment and investment strategy, which includes supporting the expansion of broadband Internet, innovation and entrepreneurship.

 

High speed Internet can help small businesses reach markets and consumers next door and around the world. Unfortunately, Maine is far behind in this important piece of our infrastructure. We have to do a better job. We can’t be satisfied with our current 49th place ranking. That hurts businesses and consumers all of the state.

 

In my food and agriculture plan, I also propose an institutional buying program to encourage Maine schools and other parts of the public sector to buy local products.

 

I’ve also proposed a small business development and commercialization grant program, a Maine Competitive Advantage Fund and a “Maine of Tomorrow” micro-business fund, all of which will help our small business to grow and expand.

 

  1. 5.      What are your thoughts on raising the minimum wage?

Answer: I support raising the minimum wage. Maine workers are falling further and further behind, and I believe that people who are working full-time should be able to make ends meet. Specifically, I’ve proposed raising the minimum wage in Maine to $9 an hour over three years.

  1. 6.     What are your thoughts on Medicaid expansion and ACA provisions as they pertain to small businesses?

Answer: On my first day in office, I will submit legislation to expand access to health care for nearly 70,000 Mainers, including 3,000 veterans. Not only is it the moral thing to do, it’s also the fiscally responsible thing to do. Expanding access to health care will save Maine hundreds of millions of dollars, create more than 3,000 jobs and strengthen our state’s hospitals. 

 

In addition, expansion will help hold costs down for everyone who already has insurance by reducing the cost shift that occurs due to bad debt and charity care. Expansion helps everyone, including small businesses that are providing health insurance coverage to their employees.

 

People in Maine are going without care unnecessarily and are suffering unnecessarily because Gov. LePage has vetoed legislation to provide them with health care five times. I think that’s wrong.

 

The Affordable Care Act creates Small Business Health Options Plans, which provides tax credits for small businesses of fewer than 50 employees to help them afford health insurance. In 2016, SHOPs will be available to businesses with up to 100 employees.

 

In my health care plan, I talk extensively about how we can improve health, which will strengthen our workforce, our economy and improve lives. As part of that plan, I also talk about how I will work to hold down health care costs for small businesses.

 

I also want to explore opportunities to use the state’s health care buying power as a way to hold insurance costs down for small businesses, and I will examine opportunities to work regionally to drive insurance costs down.

 

Overall, we can control health care costs for small businesses by ensuring that there is competition in the insurance market, providing subsidies to individuals and small businesses that qualify, ending the cost shift that occurs in the system today and by working to make our people healthier. My health care plan is a comprehensive approach to accomplishing those goals.

Thank you sustaining members!

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