Sue W Austin, Republicanhttp://www.sueaustin.orgFacebook
Office Sought: Representative - District 67
Occupation: Community Advocate
Gray-New Gloucester High School, 1966
Bliss College, 1968, Associate Degree of Science
Married 44 years to my husband Ernie.
4 children: Brett 42 yrs., Brady 40 yrs., Blessing 38 yrs., Breanne 35 yrs.
Ava 9 yrs., Cecelia 7 yrs., Hope 6 yrs., Holden 5 yrs., Owen 4 yrs., Keagan 4 yrs., Lydia 3 yrs., Hudson 3 yrs., Maeve 2 yrs., Elaina 1 yr.
Why are you running for office? It was my commitment to family that inspired my community service in the interest of helping create a brighter future for our youth. Step by step whether it was helping babies and mothers bond while naturally feeding their newborns, the 13 years on the Gray-New Gloucester School Board, Gray Town Council, one elected position to another may have sealed the pattern of community involvement. After 18 years of being engaged locally I made the decision to run for a State House Seat. In Augusta I realized that caring, engaged interest enwoven into focused attention in state policy made a difference for Maine people. Being a part of that forward motion drives me to want to join the ranks again to assist and represent our district.
Gray-New Gloucester School Board, 1984 -1997; Pineland Conversion Committee, 1998 - 2000; Gray Town Council, 2001 - 2003; Maine House of Representatives, 2002 - 2010
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?No
No, not at this time. We recently paid off the Maine Hospitals after years of expecting them to carry our bad debt. I fear expansion would put us into that very negative posture again. It seems to scream in the face of logic that the very facilities that provide such needed and necessary services are the ones who do not get reimbursed for their services. That nonpayment for years and years threatened the very viability of the facility and their staffs. These facilities are often the core of their communities providing good employment opportunities at many levels and a vital part of the economic climate for the region. It is through sound public policy and practice that these key providers to Maine people gain financial security to be able to continue their mission of delivering top notch healthcare for Mainers.
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?Yes
What, if anything, would you change about welfare?Welfare was established to help folks down on their luck. It created a safety net to sustain them until their conditions improved, be it a job, a resolved health issue or stable living conditions. What we have today is not simple! It is a more complicated array of services offered that do not necessarily talk to each other when addressing and providing assistance. What happens from that situation is people receiving benefits that are not necessarily prioritized so that the most severe get help first and foremost. We need a more thorough internal evaluaton of criteria of services and delivery. Maine is a good and generous state. However, that generosity has been abused and with closer oversight it has revealed that there are some receiving benefits for which they do not qualify. That drains the resources for those who truly need our assistance to get onto their feet. Through this mission of providing a true safety net, we also need to encourage the culture of self-empowerment.
Do you support raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour?No
Please explain your position on the minimum wage.The premise is that raising the minimum wage will enhance a family’s living; but in truth it results in raising many of the costs/expenses around that very family. Income may go up but often household expenses then go up, resulting in little to no gain. Day Care costs rise, mum and pup prices go up, mechanical services become more expensive, food costs increase, along with many services that families need on a routine basis. If employers have to pay a higher minimum wage to employees, often they need to increase pay for other employees accordingly to keep the difference in pay grades reflective of experience, performance, etc. This becomes a major increase of staff payroll for employers - not only raising staff expense for a higher minimum wage, but increasing other wages accordingly. When this happens, businesses raise their prices to bring in more money to pay for the increase in payroll. In addition, as wages go up, businesses may need to reduce employee hours. So an employee may make more money per hour, but his/her hours may get a reduction. Again, resulting in little to no gain. It also contributes to the shrinking of service jobs for our teens and college students who may be just entering the workforce with little to no specific training. If the business owner has to pay them a higher minimum wage for their early learning on-the-job training, the service will become more expensive to offer, resulting in some cases where the young and inexperienced youth will not be hired due to that very cost factor.
Would you support legalization of marijuana?No
Please explain your position on legalization?I support Maine’s current law, making marijuana legal for medical purposes. In my previous 13 plus years on the Gray-New Gloucester School Board we sought to educate our student body about the health issues of illegal drugs. There has been national coverage of the Colorado scene since its legalization of marijuana. There have been unintended consequences of the passed legislation. Young children have acquired marijuana due to their parents having it legally in their home. They have been caught selling it on their elementary school grounds to their peers. Consequently more safety issues have arisen through availability to young children, operation of vehicles while under the influence and long term health issues due to habitual consumption. There is much more science and validation that will come from observing Colorado's situation. At this time, I prefer to err on the side of caution for our children, our teens and our general population.