Gubernatorial Candidate Profile: Eliot Cutler



Cutler’s Focus: “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs”

 

Cutler’s Focus: “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs”

“Jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Eliot Cutler, an independent candidate for governor, when asked about the most pressing issue in Maine.

Eliot Cutler, Independent
Eliot Cutler, Independent
“We have an economy in Maine that is dead in the water,” he added, blaming the “wall of costs and a wall of ‘no’ that surround the state and keep out investment and capital.”

“A governor doesn’t create jobs,” Cutler said. “Governors can change the conditions in which people thrive and prosper.”

The Bangor native who now lives in Cape Elizabeth was a legislative assistant to the late U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-Maine), an energy official in the Carter administration and founder of an environmental and land use law firm.

Cutler said the “three big levers” that can be used to transform Maine’s economy are lowering the cost of electricity, of health care and of government.

On reducing energy costs, Cutler proposes increased generation and production of wind, solar, biomass and natural gas.

He also proposes forming Maine Energy Resources, a publicly owned business chartered to operate as a public power authority using low cost, tax-exempt capital.

This new entity, he said, would have the ability to purchase and resell electricity at substantially lower costs than are currently paid by Maine businesses. One option would be entering into public private partnerships with energy entrepreneurs.

On affordable health care, Cutler recommends, among other strategies, developing a common health services payment system that rewards quality and realigns incentives away from medical interventions and toward prevention.

“We’re still paying for procedures,” he said. “We need to get our arms around costs by providing rewards and incentives for providers to do the right thing in terms of quality and outcomes and performance.”

Cutler said consumers have an important role as well, by adopting healthier lifestyles.

“Sixty percent of what we pay for is chronic, preventable disease,” he said.

Cutler said he would reduce the cost of government by heading up a commission similar to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), which the federal government uses to determine which military bases to keep or close.

This commission, he said, would review all state programs and agencies and, within a year, make a series of recommendations to make state government more innovative, more efficient and less costly.

“Not only am I going to run this show as governor,” said Cutler, “but we’re going to ask the Legislature to do this on one up or down vote like the BRAC Commission adopted because Congress did not trust itself not to get in the way of reform.”

On education, Cutler proposes merging the community college and university systems into one that costs less to operate and makes available more to invest in education.

He also recommends authorizing charter schools for those schools and school districts that favor that as an option.

Cutler said he would favor a rolling, 25-year amortization of the state’s unfunded $4.4 billion state pension debt if it is coupled with changes to keep the debt from continuing to balloon.

Costs could be controlled in the future, he said, by transferring state employees to the Social Security system and by moving away from a defined benefit plan “to something that approximates a defined contribution plan.”

Cutler said his independent candidacy would not be an impediment in dealing with a bipartisan Legislature.

“Necessity is going to be the mother of both virtue and invention,” he said. “We won’t have any choice but to support new reforms that get us out of this rut and get us on the road where we can be the come back state of the next decade.”

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