Christopher Johnson, Democrathttp://senatorchrisjohnson.org/Facebook
Office Sought: Senator - District 13
Occupation: Information Technology professional
Bangor High School graduate 1975
University of Maine at Orono, BA Physics, fall of 1979
Married to Valarie since 1981; two daughters ages 32 and 29; three grandchildren and a fourth expected October 20th.
Why are you running for office? To make a difference, a better future for Maine people, and to do so in a way that restores public trust in state government.
State Senator from Lincoln County - February 2012 to present. Sheepscot Valley RSU#12 Board - January 2009 to present. Moderator of Somerville town meetings - elected at each town meeting since 2001.
The federal health care law has offered to pay states to expand their Medicaid programs to provide health coverage to low income Mainers. Do you support Medicaid (or MaineCare) expansion?Yes
In Maine we need to accept the roughly $250 million per year in federal funding into Maine’s economy to provide medicaid coverage (MaineCare) to people who currently cannot afford it. This too would bring 4000 good paying jobs, reduce hospital charity care costs and is a policy supported by our local hospitals and doctors because it makes preventive care available.
Overall, turning away coverage has made our population less healthy, and shifted more of the cost of treatment eventually received onto hospitals, insurance rates, and thus shifted costs onto the rest of Mainers.
Maine is the only New England state that did not expand. The other states, including New Hampshire, understood that it is a winning issue. It’s the right decision for Maine people’s health, for our economy, for jobs, and one positive step toward controlling healthcare costs. Which is why I will continue to work and to vote for doing so.
Reform of the state’s public assistance programs has been the focus of debates in the State House and on the campaign trail. Do you believe that the state’s welfare programs are too generous?No
What, if anything, would you change about welfare?It’s time to apply a few quality principles to examining the effectiveness of our safety net programs. Outcomes matter. We do need to stop misspending of benefit dollars and turn people toward productive use of those benefits for their families. I believe an Inspector General will effectively address waste within DHHS programs. And I voted for bills that would do so. We must also re-align how programs work together, remove the roadblocks that hold people back, and create opportunity for people to get out of poverty and improve their lives. And that will be the best measure of effectiveness.
Do you support raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour?Yes
By how much?I voted for raising the minimum wage in three steps over three years to $9/hour, and to index it to inflation annually thereafter. Vermont has enacted an increase to $10.50 by 2018 and to index it thereafter. The simple truth is the average age of minimum wage workers is over 20, and the majority of them are women, with over two-fifths having some college education according to the Maine Center for Economic Policy. Further, they calculate that $15.82 is a living wage for a single adult in Maine, which is a long way from Maine’s minimum wage of $7.50. That makes $10.10 as proposed at the federal level already a compromise, in that many minimum wage workers would still need state assistance to keep a roof over their heads, meals on the table, and receive health care. So I would definitely support steps to bring the minimum wage to at least $10.10. Increases in wages mean reductions in safety net costs, which will yield savings for taxpayers and a more prosperous economy.
Would you support legalization of marijuana?Other
Please explain your position on legalization?I support medical marijuana legalization which Maine has. I also think we need to improve specifications around THC levels so dosage will be more accurate. Recreational use needs to be legalized at the federal level, avoiding significant legal jeopardies for consumers and producers. And when it is, it will need appropriate regulation that gets a handle on dosing, what constitutes intoxication, and avoiding the health hazards of smoking. If recreational marijuana does become legal in Maine, revenues should go to the general fund in the state budget.