Q&A: Maine Senate District 11 Candidate Jayne Crosby Giles
Jayne Crosby Giles, R-Belfast: I was born in Belfast and lived in Waldo County most of my life. Professionally, I worked for 30-years as a small business lender in midcoast Maine. From 2006 to 2010 while working as a banker, I served in the Maine Legislature as the State Representative for Belfast, Belmont and Northport. More recently, I have been employed by nonprofits. From 2010-2016, I was the CEO of MaineStream Finance, a nonprofit community development bank providing loans and financial services in rural Maine. I then served as the Interim Executive Director for Broadreach Family & Community Services. Today, I have my own business, Giles Consulting, offering financial and development services to nonprofit organizations.
I am running for the Waldo County Senate seat because I want to make a difference in the lives and future of our children, families and seniors. I have a lifetime of business, banking and legislative experience that I want to use to help the people of Waldo County. I am a proven advocate for Maine’s small businesses and, in 2016, was named the Financial Services Champion for Maine and New England by the US Small Business Administration (SBA). Through my volunteer work, I am a voice for our children and seniors. They are our most vulnerable and I want to do all I can to make sure families enjoy the best opportunities possible in Waldo County.
Outside of work, I am always eager to volunteer in our community including my work with the Waldo County YMCA Board, Coastal Healthcare Alliance Advisory Council and Belfast Rotary Club. I serve on two state-wide, nonprofit boards: Northeast Delta Dental of Maine and Maine Association of Non-Profits (MANP). I am a past board member for Waldo County General Hospital and the Abnaki Girl Scout Council, plus, have served on several City of Belfast Committees: Business Development, Retail Review, and CDBG funding review.My husband is Mike Giles, the owner of a small business, Atlantic Insurance & Benefits. We are proud of our three grown children and two grandchildren. I describe myself as a lifelong learner having graduated from Belfast Area High School and Wellesley College with a degree in economics. I completed graduate work at the University of Delaware/Stonier Graduate School of Banking, graduating with honors. My thesis titled “Bank Services for the Smallest Companies” won a national writing contest. I am a member of Senior College in Belfast.
What are the three most pressing issues facing Maine today, and how would you like to see them resolved?
Healthcare & Healthy Living: Maine voters passed a referendum to expand Medicaid coverage to 70,000 Maine residents. The next legislature working with the new Governor needs to find adequate dollars within the state budget to fund. As part of Maine’s healthcare plan, we should focus on living healthier and more active lives. A Maine Wellness plan is needed to encourage healthy living, eating and exercise – which will improve the health of our citizens while reducing the costs of healthcare.
Small Business Growth & A Skilled Workforce: Small businesses are the backbone of rural Maine’s economy. Critical to this is a need for skilled workers, a business-friendly environment, adequate broadband communications, and financial resources, such as loans and capital, for businesses to grow and thrive. Smart legislative policy needs to encourage entrepreneurial success in Maine.
Taking Care of Maine Seniors & Veterans: Maine has an aging population. I recently asked a retired hospital CEO what is the most important issue facing healthcare. His response was: “the tsunami of seniors heading our way.” The concerns that legislators face for our seniors are many: fixed incomes, isolation, transportation, access to healthcare and affordable housing.
How will you protect the local (municipal) taxpayer as you help shape a state budget?
Maine residents are burdened by increasingly high property taxes. For the elderly living on fixed incomes, the legislature needs to provide greater property tax relief through efforts, such as, the Homestead Tax Exemption. Seniors over age 70 living on a fixed income should be given a larger Homestead Exemption to reduce property tax bills by hundreds of dollars each year or, the amount of their taxes should be frozen (no further increases) while they own the home. The legislature needs to find more ways to provide property tax relief to those needing it the most.
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.
How will you work to ensure that Maine’s fisheries are vital and productive, and that the habitat and marine life are protected?
I support the efforts by Senators Collins and King to push for research into the warming of the Gulf of Maine. The Gulf is home to large fish stocks harvested by Maine fishermen and women creating a large impact on our midcoast economy. As a former legislator, I have long supported initiatives to preserve our fisheries and marine habitats. My husband and I live along the coast in Belfast and are longtime sailors. It is important to keep our ocean healthy and sustainable. In the Maine Senate, I will continue to work hard to keep Maine’s fisheries productive while providing adequate protections to ensure marine habitats and life are preserved.
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.
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?
I support energy policies that encourage the use of renewable, clean energy. During my prior legislative service, I was appointed to a special committee on Maine’s Energy Future. Resources for research and technology are needed to develop the most efficient and affordable renewable energy. This is particularly important in rural areas where access to clean energy may be limited and expensive. Additionally, because of Maine’s long winters, homeowners need resources to weatherize their homes to minimize energy consumption.
How do you want to see Maine laws governing the commercial growth and sale of marijuana to evolve?
- The sale of marijuana should be properly regulated so that consumers have access to a safe product.
- Enforcement of Maine laws needs to be done to limit illegal consumption by underage teens and children.
- Public education and awareness of the benefits and detriments of marijuana is needed for all age groups.
What issues are emerging from your conversations with the public as you go about your campaign, and what solutions do you envision?
- Access to Healthcare: People are concerned about healthcare in two ways: 1) Geographic access close to hospitals and medical professionals and, 2) Affordable health insurance coverage. Maine has among the highest quality hospitals in the country. The legislature needs to work with our hospitals to ensure that quality care continues in all regions – while facing rising health care costs and demands for services. Plus, Maine legislation needs to ensure a competitive, cost-effective health insurance market for residents.
- New and emerging small businesses: I recently taught a Business Basics class to a group of 25 entrepreneurs. Most were in business one year or less. This next generation of Maine business owners wants business-friendly initiatives such as: adequate access to capital and loans, simplified tax codes, more affordable health insurance, and greater options for older employers to retire and transition the business to younger owners.
- Seniors aging in place: We need to do our best for Maine’s elderly. More home health workers are needed to assist seniors who want to age in place. Plus, their homes need to be safe, warm, and secure. While campaigning door to door this summer, I climbed too many unsafe steps and porches. The Maine State Housing Authority working with legislators may be a source for increased home repair assistance grants and low interest loans for our fixed-income seniors.
Voters approved expansion of Medicaid. How do you want to see that implemented and funded?
From Question #2: Healthcare & Healthy Living: Maine voters passed a referendum to expand Medicaid coverage to 70,000 Maine residents. The next legislature working with the new Governor needs to find adequate dollars within the state budget to fund. As part of Maine’s healthcare plan, we should focus on living healthier and more active lives. A Maine Wellness plan is needed to encourage healthy living, eating and exercise – which bottom line will improve the overall health of our citizens while reducing the costs of our healthcare plans.
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 support initiatives that expand access to renewable clean energy resources. The proposed CMP transmission line expansion allows New England to connect to clean power available from Hydro Quebec. I support this idea.
However, I am also concerned that the proposed corridor expansion needs to meet Maine’s environmental regulations. The impact on Maine’s clean environment must be a priority when a project of this scope and magnitude is considered. There is still considerable planning and discussion to be done. I welcome the opportunity to work with other legislators, communities and the utilities on this matter.
Two young Maine children were killed under horrific circumstances in 2017. How would you improve the caliber of DHHS, specifically child protective services?
- I support additional funding for DHHS child protective services to reduce caseloads and increase administrative support. Additionally, if requested, DHHS should have the necessary resources to invest in technology that best links client information across DHHS departments, as appropriate.
- I support new legislation to allow school districts to share information with appropriate sources when a student and his/her family moves, if domestic issues are involved. This may include officials within the new school that the child attends. To better protect our children, school administrators and teachers need to know the history of the child’s family difficulties.
- School officials and law enforcement should be given greater resources to follow up on truancy and frequent school absences when the family is not responsive.
What committees would you like to serve on and why?
Appropriations and Financial Affairs is my first choice of committees. I served on the committee when I was in the Legislature before. My banking and financial experience allows me to be an effective member, plus, Appropriations works with all legislative committees. I have a wide range of interests – based on work and personal experiences – and I work hard to contribute on many levels.
Maine’s economy relies on small and micro-businesses. How will you help the entrepreneur succeed in this state?
Maine business owners will benefit greatly from a business-friendly environment that supports initiatives such as: increased access to capital and loans, simplified tax codes, more affordable health insurance for employers and employees, and greater options for employers of retirement age to transition their business to younger owners.
Maine’s business community has a great resource in the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) which has led the state’s business and natural resource lending for over 25 years. Additional resources such as MTI and a strong network of community development lenders provide great assistance to small and micro entrepreneurs. As businesses grow, Maine is fortunate to have an established, sound banking system with innovative bankers that provide necessary loan, deposit and investment services to Maine’s large numbers of small businesses.
I have worked with Maine’s small and micro-business owners for most of my 30-plus-year banking career, including, six-years leading a non-profit bank, MaineStream Finance. Experience has taught me that entrepreneurs do well when adequate, flexible startup capital is available. Plus, entrepreneurs need to know how to prepare a sound business plan to ensure that the business has the greatest opportunity for success. Finally, in the current tight job market, future employers need a skilled workforce ready to go. As Waldo County’s next Maine Senator, I will advocate, initiate and support legislative efforts to make these and other necessary resources available to our business owners.
Does Maine have enough mental health care resources? If not, what needs to improve and how?
No. Access to sufficient mental health resources is particularly challenging in rural communities where the incidence of mental health is higher, incomes lower, and families less prepared for the challenge. I am a strong supporter of community-based, local organizations that provide case management for those in need of behavioral and mental services. These agencies may provide the best access to care with licensed mental health practitioners who provide services where most needed. DHHS can help by working with local agencies both public and private to bring services closest to the patient.
What is your vision for affordable health care?
My vision is a blend of private and government paid health care insurance that provides affordable access to care. Seniors will continue coverage through federally-funded Medicare programs. Low income families and children may be covered through the state-managed Medicaid programs. Employer-based coverage allows employers to offer health insurance plans to best fit the needs of their employees. Self-employed and the individual group market may need the strongest legislative attention and support to maintain affordable health insurance plans. Health care should include a strong focus on wellness plans encouraging healthy living, eating and exercise. This will reduce costs while helping people live better lives.
Maine has built up a fiscal surplus. How should it be used?
When I left the Legislature in 2010, the state had no surplus and owed Maine’s hospitals over $500 million. The state has successfully built up a $250 million surplus which should be preserved as much as possible as for economic downturns. The surplus is like a savings account so that any use should be done carefully and with broad impact to all Mainers. The Legislature may want to consider limiting the size of the surplus to a percentage of the total budget so that the surplus does not grow indefinitely, any excess would be returned to the taxpayers.
What are your positions on the following November ballot questions?
- 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?"
- No. I am in favor of supporting families needing to care for their loved ones with disabilities and/or seniors. However, I do not support Question 1 because of several details not disclosed in the referendum question. A new fund will be created with the proposed 3.8% tax that does not have adequate legislative oversight. The privacy of individual health histories is not safeguarded and there is a collective bargaining requirement for the caregivers. Finally, the additional 3.8% tax on higher income individuals – including doctors, dentists, physical therapists and nurses – may discourage them from living in Maine. Rural Maine may suffer more because we already have a shortage of medical professionals.
- 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?” YES
- 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?” YES
- 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?” YES
- 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?” YES
Please feel free to expand or add any thoughts here that we have not touched upon.
Early Childhood Education is one key area that I will focus on for our preschool and prekindergarten aged children (2 ½ to 5 years old). Investing in early childhood education is a smart move. The kids who are taught to read and count before kindergarten – get a jump start on life. Plus, investing now saves money later. A 2013 study by economist and University of Maine Professor Philip A. Trostel, Ph.D found the rate of return on public investment in early childhood education to be at least 7.5 percent. His report, Path to a Better Future: The Fiscal Payoff for Investment in Early Childhood in Maine, determined that the initial public cost of early childhood education (ages 0 to 5) could be recovered by age 14, before the child reaches high school. Finding new monies in already tight state and federal budgets is a challenge. However, we cannot overlook the importance of educating our very young. The return on investment is proven. Our priorities should be clear and our Maine kids are counting on us.