Setting the Record Straight

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Dill, Summers, King: Tough questions, candid interviews

Maine Statehouse, Photo John Christie

The most important issues for voters in this election are jobs and the economy. As part of our series about the U.S. Senate race in Maine, “Setting the Record Straight,” the Center’s reporters have conducted in-depth interviews with the top three candidates about their records of job creation and economic development. Reporters Matt Drange, John Christie and Naomi Schalit pose the hard questions and track down the important details with candidates Cynthia Dill, Charlie Summers and Angus King. We videotaped those interviews, and you can see them below. Continue Reading →

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King cites his $900m tax break program as a job creator

Angus King, photo Terry Karkos, Sun Journal

The number one issue on voters’ minds this year is jobs. Angus King, the leading candidate in the U. S. Senate race, claims as governor he helped create jobs in Maine with some of his policies, including a program called BETR. BETR stands for Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement. Until King became governor, businesses had to pay property taxes on equipment they purchased, from paper-making machines to computers. In 1995, then-Gov. King persuaded the legislature that if the state gave the taxes back to the businesses, businesses would expand and create jobs for Mainers. Continue Reading →

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Charlie Summers interview with the Center

The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting’s Naomi Schalit and John Christie interviewed U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers on Friday, August 17. With him was Jay Martin, Maine’s Small Business Advocate. The interview focused on Summers’ record of job creation, specifically on the creation of the Small Business Advocate position. There are two versions of the video. The first is an edited version of our interview, the second is the unedited interview.   Continue Reading →

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Summers’ jobs program fails to live up to his claims of success

Charlie Summers, photo Linda Coan O’Kresik, BDN

Republican Charlie Summers has pinned his campaign for the U. S. Senate on a vow to improve the economy and create jobs on a national level the way he says he has on the state level. As Maine’s secretary of state, Summers added a $50,000 “Small Business Advocate” in his office that he says on his campaign website shows how “investing in small businesses will create jobs and strengthen our economy.”

If elected, Summers states he will “introduce legislation that will create a national small business advocate, just like the one I successfully lobbied for in Maine who has already saved Maine businesses from undue state regulators.”

But a Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting examination of the business advocate’s own records tells a much more mixed story of the effectiveness of the new position that was filled last October by Jay Martin of Old Town. While Summers boasts the program is a job creator, in the 10 months the advocate has been on the job, records show few, if any, new jobs can be directly attributed to the work of the business advocate. For seven weeks this spring and summer, from June 1 to July 27, the advocate did not have a single open case, according to weekly activity reports. The records also reveal that the advocate claims credit for solving problems that others solved, suffers from legal restrictions that handicap his effectiveness and did not meet two of the six minimum requirements for the job. Continue Reading →

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King claim about pension funding neglects to tell the full story

Angus King, photo Terry Karkos, Sun Journal

In promoting his independent candidacy for U. S. Senate, Angus King claims credit for improving the financial condition of the state’s pension funding during his two terms as governor. The accuracy of the claim, made on his campaign web site, is important because Maine, like most states, has a history of going deep into debt due to poor financial management of the multi-billion-dollar program. The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting examined the claim for accuracy and completeness, relying primarily on records from the Maine retirement system and legislative studies. The research shows that while the pension system finances improved while King was governor, a major reason wasn’t because of anything he did – it was because he was governor during the stock market’s glory years when the system’s investments went up double digits. King’s use of statistics to make the case for himself have another problem: He counts only the first six years of the governorship, when the pension funding improved, and skips over the final two years, when the funding declined, although it was still better than when he took office. Continue Reading →

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Record shows little support for Dill’s claim to be job creator

Cynthia Dill, photo Christopher Cousins, BDN

Cynthia Dill, Maine’s Democratic candidate for Olympia Snowe’s soon-to-be vacant U.S. Senate seat, said on her campaign website last month that she “has a record of … creating quality jobs” during her six years in the state legislature. But an analysis of Dill’s legislative history by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting found that claim to be largely premature. To date, only five permanent jobs can be attributed to Dill’s legislation, plus another 323 temporary positions — the bulk of which are construction jobs. During an interview last week, Dill defended her record when questioned about the validity of her job creation claim.“It’s a job,” said the Cape Elizabeth state senator. “Whether they are temporary or not, it’s something that I’m very proud of.”

On the morning of July 17 — the day after the interview — Dill asked her web developer to modify the homepage, an email she provided to the Center shows. Continue Reading →

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