Maine State Senator Peter Mills

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Mills calls for stricter standards for state

By VALERIE TUCKER - Correspondent

Copyright © 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

FARMINGTON -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Peter Mills says the state of Maine is itself a business. So what happens when parts of the state don't function very well?

Mills posed the question to a group of supporters at a reception in his hometown of Farmington yesterday and then offered his solutions.

"Our state and local governments together are almost a fifth of the state's total business," he said. "What happens when state government begins to fail and becomes dysfunctional, as the Department of Health and Human Services has, regrettably?"

Mills suggested increasing assessment and accountability documentation at all levels of Maine government. He suggested that the state services be held to standards that are more like those is the private sector. Forcing departments to prove their efficiency should also provide opportunities to consolidate redundant services.

"When a private business fails to compete, it drops out of the scene… When a state business fails, it goes back to the appropriations committee and raises your taxes." Mills said.

Introduced by his sister Janet, a Franklin County Democratic legislator, Mills shared his concerns for the state's future and his confidence in the voters' ability to make responsible choices. As both an attorney and a Republican senator, Mills has years of experience that he hopes will translate into votes at the primaries in June. He listed several concerns that are part of his "Twelve Steps To A Better Maine."

Mills stressed that he welcomes questions about his less traditional Republican views. He is pro-choice on abortion and is a supporter of gay rights, both controversial stands in a traditionally conservative party. He challenged voters to take more responsibility in the state's decision-making process, rather than leaving it solely to lawmakers.

"Voters should know if local road maintenance is less costly than the DOT (state Department of Transportation) when they go to their town meetings to vote on their budgets," Mills said. "Let's at least get at the truth."

Audience member Scott Landry is the owner of Shiretown Insurance and is a director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. He expressed frustration with the business climate in the state.

"We need to be able to afford to do business in the state of Maine," Landry said. "Mills is a fiscal conservative, and we need that."

Jon and Lois Bubier, owners of Ron's Market, shared the same concerns.

"I think the tax on cigarettes was a waste and didn't solve any of the real problems in this state," Bubier said.

Other announced Republican candidates for governor include: ex-Congressman David Emery, educator and State Sen. Chandler Woodcock of Farmington, and Stephen Stimpson, a concession stand owner and 1996 candidate for state representative.