Dale Denno, Democrathttp://www.daledenno.comFacebook
Office Sought: Representative - District 45
Occupation: Retired State Agency Director
Syracuse University 1968-1972: A.B. (dual major in Political Science and English)
Cornell Law School 1972-1975: Juris Doctor
I am married to the painter Diane Dahlke, and have two adult sons, 38 and 35. We have two beautiful granddaughters, 7 and 5, who live here in Maine.
Why are you running for office? I am running because Maine is exporting more young people than goods and services. The biggest challenge of this generation is the transformation of Maine's economy, to enable our young people to live and raise their families here in Maine. We've lost much of the industrial and agricultural base of the past century, but we have not had sufficient new businesses arise to take their place. Maine has the oldest population in the country, largely resulting from the exodus of our young people. This is not a sustainable model, and we need to step up and work for a more vibrant, dynamic economy that recognizes and protects the environment and other qualities that make Maine special. Government alone cannot "fix" this problem. However, we can become a state that is an active, responsive and service-oriented partner to entrepreneurs. We can take aggressive steps to assure that we have an educated and trained workforce that is ready to meet the needs of new and existing businesses. We need more slots and more programs in our community colleges, so that students can get the skills to be job-ready on graduation. We need more doctoral programs in the STEM subjects at USM as an incentive for high-tech entrepreneurs. We need to integrate innovation and creativity into our K-12 programs. There is huge potential in agriculture, aquaculture, payment processing, and other sectors. We offer an unparalleled quality of life, and a work ethic second to none. Together, we can make this happen.
I was elected to two 3-year terms on the MSAD 51 (Cumberland/North Yarmouth) School Board, serving from '91 to '97 (Chairman, '95-'96).
From October 2011 through December of 2013, I served as a Republican political appointee in DHHS's Office for Family Independence, where I served as Director. I led an organization of over 950 employees across the state, with responsibility for public assistance eligibility, child support enforcement and Social Security disability determination. I was the Administration's representative on policy development, fiscal management and program development. I testified regularly on behalf of the Administration on related issues in Legislative committees, primarily HHS and Appropriations. I also met informally with legislators from both parties on a regular basis, to provide information and to help shape legislation. I worked effectively with both Republicans and Democrats, and I proud to retain excellent relationships with legislators from both parties.
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
Accepting federal dollars for expansion would bring over $300M of annual economic stimulus to Maine's economy, and it has been estimated that expansion would bring approximately 4,000 jobs to the state. These are economic benefits over and above the human benefit of providing health care to 70,000 Maine citizens, many of them the working poor.
We are already paying for health care for these individuals, but in the most expensive and least effective way possible. Many of the uninsured receive their primary care via hospital "charity care." The care, rendered at emergency rooms, does not provide any preventive health services, but only treats an individual after the medical condition has reached a crisis. This is not only substandard medical practice; it is financially irresponsible. We are all absorbing these costs in our insurance premiums, and the costs are straining the resources of our hospitals. Failure to accept expansion is putting our community hospitals at risk; many are already struggling.
Even "Red State" governors in Arizona, Nevada and Wyoming have done the math and realized that is is foolish to pay federal taxes for other states' health care while denying it to their own citizens. There were 23 hold-out states, which will soon shrink to 20. We are currently refusing health care for our citizens that is 100% funded by the federal government. If, in 2016, when the state share starts to grade up from 5% to 10%, we could revisit the cost/benefit analysis.
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?Other
What, if anything, would you change about welfare?The common belief that Maine has rich welfare benefits is erroneous. Maine's welfare (TANF) benefits are the lowest in New England. SNAP ("Food Stamps") benefits are federally-funded and federally regulated; there is no difference in the benefit between states. Medicaid, primarily funded and regulated by the federal government, provides similar benefits in all states. For the truly needy, Maine is in no way a welfare haven. Many Maine voters observe that there are people on public assistance programs who are undeserving, and who are misusing their benefits. Dishonesty, manipulation of the system and outright fraud are real problems, and the outrage against these abuses is valid. The system needs to be more tightly managed at the front end, and sophisticated tools must be deployed to detect and punish fraud. We also need to emphasize the temporary nature of welfare benefits. The intention of the program is to give people who have hit a rough patch a hand up, but not to create permanent dependency. Recent innovations require every TANF recipient to receive a thorough assessment of skills and abilities to make sure they are focused on those activities that will best lead them to become self-supporting. We also contracted with the Department of Labor to identify work experience options for TANF recipients. The goal is for every recipient to be constantly active in pursuit of independence. These and other actions are needed to regain public trust in the programs' integrity.
Do you support raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour?Yes
By how much?While it would be far preferable to have the minimum wage raised to $10.10 at the federal level, the current Congress is incapable of acting. I would support Maine raising the minimum wage to that level, to bring it current with inflation. No one should work a 40-hour week, and then have to turn to public benefits to feed their family. Standard and Poor's, hardly a liberal organization, has recently warned against the dangers to our overall economy resulting from growing income inequality. Increasingly, Republicans like Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, as well as business leaders like Costco CEO Jim Singeal and Jim Wellehan, CEO of Lamey-Wellehan here in Maine, are urging an increase in the minimum wage. Our businesses need customers, and customers need disposable income. Mainers work hard; we need to make sure they are compensated at a rate that at least allows them to care for their own families.
Would you support legalization of marijuana?Other
Please explain your position on legalization?I believe that the legalization of marijuana is inevitable, and I am generally supportive of that direction. The argument that alcohol should be easily available but marijuana possession is a criminal act just doesn't hold water. We are also losing significant tax revenues by not legalizing marijuana; we can ill-afford to forgo that money when we are struggling to balance our budgets. The reason I did not check "Yes" is because I don't favor Maine rushing headlong into legalization. Other states have already legalized recreational marijuana, or have made it easy to obtain medical marijuana. We need to study these states' experience to see what problems arise, and what unforeseen issues need to be managed. Some believe that legalization will lead young people to experiment with stronger psychotropic drugs. We need to study the medical implications of marijuana use on the juvenile brain. There is good reason to learn from these states' experience, and to move slowly so as minimize or avoid problems. One strong influence on my views on this issue was the observation of a law enforcement officer that, in his experience, 90% of domestic violence involves alcohol, and 0% involves marijuana.