Q&A: Maine House District 93 Candidate Pinny Beebe-Center

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 3:00pm

    Pinny Beebe-Center, D-Rockland, is seeking reelection to the House seat that represents Owls Head and Rockland in the Maine Legislature.

    I bought my house in Rockland in 1980. I worked for the State, Departments of Education and Transportation for a number of years and ran a consulting business at the same time. My work at the state was as a change agent: electronically making educational resources available to Maine schools, and decentralizing mainframe computers systems to PC networks. My consulting business was helping mostly non-profits utilize PC technology wisely and effectively.

    I left state employment to become County Commissioner and served two terms. I was the business manager at the Community School (Wayfinders Schools) during its transition from founder led to executive director. I was the regional manager of Penquis, helped start the Knox County Homeless Coalition and am currently the interim executive director of New Hope for Women.  I care about people and believe in community.

    What are the three most pressing issues facing Maine today, and how would you like to see them resolved?

    Providing affordable healthcare for all Mainers;

    Returning revenue sharing back to its 5 percent and allowing a portion of sales tax to remain in the town/city of origination, allowing local services to be properly funded and some property tax relief for all towns.

    Fully funding public schools- at 55 percent as the law states.


    How will you protect the local (municipal) taxpayer as you help shape a state budget?

    By not cutting municipal revenues and limiting passing any mandates the towns /regions would be forced to pay for- particularly towns that are service centers.


    Scientists have reported that the Gulf of Maine is warming (Gulf of Maine experiences marine heat wave, scientists say: penbaypilot.com/article/gulf-maine- experiences-marine-heat-wave-scientists-say/106929) and Senators Collins, King push for research into warming of Gulf of Maine, penbaypilot.com/article/senators-collins- king-push-research-warming-gulf-maine/101228.

    I am part of the Coastal Caucus in the Legislature which is a bipartisan group that is dedicated to learning about Gulf of Maine warming, and the impacts of global warming on our State. This allows us to put together legislation in order to connect people, regions and municipalities to information to help stop or limit the effects. The professionals and researchers who educate us in that caucus also guide us  in effective policies for Maine’s maritime industries and habitat.


    What are your positions on energy policies and use of renewable energy (solar, wind, tidal turbine)? Should the state of Maine encourage renewables with tax and policy development?

    The State of Maine should absolutely be supporting renewable energies. We should be working with our communities and the industries to responsibly increase and make affordable

    renewable energy sources and products. There are a number of effective tax incentives and policies that encourage these industries and people’s access to this energy. Investing in renewable energy is a big employment opportunity with livable wage jobs which Maine could clearly benefit from.


    How do you want to see Maine laws governing the commercial growth and sale of marijuana to evolve?

    I did not have an automatic position on these questions. I have had to examine my own assumptions, learn from constituents who have need of marijuana to live with chronic pain, and I am still learning. I believe that there should be a local revenue stream for communities from the taxes if they have commercial/medical marijuana establishments. As we successfully gathered information from community conversations before with the Opioid Collaborative 3 years ago, we can do it again with implementing marijuana legalization. I believe It is these public conversations with their many diverse opinions that will lead us to form responsible policy.


    What issues are emerging from your conversations with the public as you go about your campaign, and what solutions do you envision?

     Penobscot Bay Pilot has posed questions to each candidate running for District Attorney, Maine Senate and Legislature, providing the opportunity for the public to better understand their position on issues important to the state. The candidates have responded with their individual written answers.

    I am hearing from people that property taxes are too high and only getting higher. As I work with constituents with significant needs, I see that access to mental health and addiction resources are difficult, poverty and hunger are increasing. A fundamental roadblock is finding living wage jobs, or even affordable housing, especially if you have a record. Only a few employers are willing to hire or rent to people who seem like a risk, and those few make all the difference to a person becoming a contributing part of the community. I think we need to put the people of Maine first and not just restore services and supports, that have been eliminated, but create something better that allows people to access and earn what is necessary for a productive and sustainable life.


    Voters approved expansion of Medicaid. How do you want to see that implemented and funded?

    The Legislature recommended the necessary funding for implementation. The Governor vetoed that bill.  I believe healthcare is a right. My intention is to do all I can, as a representative and democratic member of the Progressive caucus in the next session to see that this is funded and sustained.


    What is your position on the proposed 145-mile Central Maine Power transmission line that the company hopes to build from Quebec, through Beattie Township, and the expansion of 92 miles of existing corridor to Lewiston, and another 26.5 miles from Windsor to Wiscasset?

    I am against it.  My concern is that building this would destroy forever parts of Maine when there are other alternatives for supplying electricity to southern New England.


    Two young Maine children were killed under horrific circumstances in 2017. How would you improve the caliber of DHHS, specifically child protective services?

    I sponsored and got passed legislation, with a near unanimous bipartisan vote that would allow the contracted funds for protecting our children to continue after these children’s deaths and DHHS’s announcement that it was stopping those funds. The bipartisan support shows that legislators of both parties would follow similar leadership in this next session. A major reason for these deaths is a cascade of decisions:  the 8 -year dismantling of DHHS, not filling positions at CPS, the attrition of case managers at CPS. Without the proper staffing -caseloads were too large and since no one wanted a child to die under their watch case managers left employment. A thorough review of what has been privatized, discontinued, lost, not funded, merged, or just plain left to wither needs to be conducted and made transparent to the public. Public Health and the needs of our people must have enough importance to create a system that is fair, affordable, and effective.


    What committees would you like to serve on and why?

    I want to remain on State and Local. I attend many of the Health and Human Services committee meetings, and not being a member allows me to identify, contact and if necessary transport people to testify during many of the public hearings. I also want to continue to follow through on our work in the Opioid Task Force with our recommendations to various committees to include legislation that will support prevention, treatment and recovery of opioid addiction.


    Maine’s economy relies on small and micro-businesses. How will you help the entrepreneur succeed in this state?

    I believe the backbone of our economy in Maine is the small business owner. As a consultant to non-profits for many years, I am one of those small business owners. Many small businesses are family businesses; supporting small business feeds the strength of our families, and therefore the whole community.  I would first of all make broadband accessible to all throughout the State. I would encourage MakerSpaces so people could incubate their startups as well as involve the communities in their work, products and offerings. I believe instituting universal health care would also provide a big boost to entrepreneurs and businesses employing a small number of employees.


    Does Maine have enough mental health care resources?

    Maine has decimated its mental health system and eliminated access to many mental health resources.  It will take a collaborative effort with private, government and public resources to assess the current needs, develop the most cost effective strategies, and integrate mental health services, resources, and supports back into our health systems and our communities.


    What is your vision for affordable health care?

    I believe, as demonstrated by much of the rest of the world, that a single payer universal health system is the most affordable and the most effective. I am and will continue to be an active advocate with Maine AllCare.


    Maine has built up a fiscal surplus. How should it be used?

    I think each of the issues, needs and strategies raised in the previous questions point the way for responsible investment for part of the surplus. I think a major part of the surplus should be invested in increased Public Health nurses and resources, prevention and treatment of addiction, and strengthening community/regional efforts for livable wage jobs and affordable housing.


    What are your positions on the following November ballot questions?

    I support each of these efforts.

    Question 1: “Do you want to create the Universal Home Care Program to provide home-based assistance to people with disabilities and senior citizens, regardless of income, funded by a new 3.8% tax on individuals and families with Maine wage and adjusted gross income above the amount subject to Social Security taxes, which is $128,400 in 2018?"

    Question 2: “Do you favor a $30,000,000 bond issue to improve water quality, support the planning and construction of wastewater treatment facilities and assist homeowners whose homes are served by substandard or malfunctioning wastewater treatment systems?”

    Question 3: “Do you favor a $106,000,000 bond issue, including $101,000,000 for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities and equipment related to ports, piers, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails, to be used to match an estimated $137,000,000 in federal and other funds, and $5,000,000 for the upgrade of municipal culverts at stream crossings?”

    Question 4: “Do you favor a $49,000,000 bond issue to be matched by at least $49,000,000 in private and public funds to modernize and improve the facilities and infrastructure of Maine's public universities in order to expand workforce development capacity and to attract and retain students to strengthen Maine's economy and future workforce?”

    Question 5: “Do you favor a $15,000,000 bond issue to improve educational programs by upgrading facilities at all 7 of Maine's community colleges in order to provide Maine people with access to high-skill, low-cost technical and career education?”