CHALLENGES FOR MAINE
The 1962 Platform of the Maine Democratic Party
PREAMBLE—— A responsible political party is more than a vehicle for political power or for the ambitions of an individual; it is an instrument for service. Such a party has an obligation to present a meaningful platform and qualified individuals who will support that platform.
The purpose of a political platform is primarily to state the need for changes that will improve the life of our state. These changes must be indicated both broadly and specifically. We have stated as specifically as possible the stand of the Maine Democratic Party on key issues of importance to the future of our state.
We pledge our efforts to implement the proposals of this platform. This has been the tradition of the Maine Democratic Party as a responsible political party. It is the tradition we intend to maintain.
JOBS — INCOME — OPPORTUNITY
Maine ’s greatest single challenge and need is economic growth. This is the key to a better life for all the people of Maine, with more jobs, higher income and greater opportunity. Economic growth is the foundation on which better education, improved care for the sick, handicapped, poor and aged and other essential State services must be based.
Economic development was given first priority in Maine under five years of Democratic administration. We propose to restore vigorous and imaginative use of present means of economic development.
Where new tools and techniques are required we would create them. We would assure full use of all our assets by developing the talents of our people and the natural resources of our land, forests and water.
Recognizing that transportation is a vital key to Maine’s economic growth, we would develop a comprehensive and coordinated transportation policy.
We specifically recommend:
* Greater State assistance in local industrial development projects.
* Accelerated use of aid extended by the Area Redevelopment Act.
* Increased advertising of our four-season recreation assets.
* Expansion of the Maine Industrial Building Authority to include financial assistance to the recreation industry.
* Development of the power potential of the Passamaquoddy Bay and the St. John River Basin under an international river basin authority with recognition of multiple resource use.
* A division of foreign trade in the Department of Economic Development with emphasis on Canada.
* Provision for a full-time State economist.
* Promotion of Make products through better marketing and labeling.
TRAINING AND RESEARCH
* Expanded research and industrial cooperation facilities at both campuses of the U. of M.
* More research and pilot projects in dairying, potato growing, poultry raising and wood using industries.
* Improvement of the labor supply through more vocational training and rehabilitation of the disabled.
* Creation of a forest products laboratory.
* Improved fisheries education in coastal high schools.
* Increased research to improve the quality, harvesting and marketing of all sea products.
* Strengthening the Small Business Administration, particularly in the fields of research and counseling.
* Improvement of air service designed to meet Maine ’s particular needs with emphasis on regional airports and coordinated feeder service and ground transportation.
* Continued expansion and improvement of our highway system, gearing it to Maine’s needs for community, industrial, agricultural and recreational development.
* Improved implementation of the highway safety program.
* Support of a public transportation program as applicable to Maine’s needs, especially in the area of rail transportation.
* Relief from Federal wartime taxes on rail, bus and air transport.
* Revenue bonding to acquire and develop State parks.
* Matching State support for better access roads to recreation areas.
* Use of the unclaimed marine gas tax refunds to improve public boating facilities.
* More consumer representation on the Milk Price Control Board; revision of retail milk prices giving higher cash and carry and volume discounting; examination of recent trends in milk distribution costs and their impact on the price paid to farmers and the price charged to consumers.
* More active examination by the Public Utilities Commission of utility rates.
* An increased staff and expanded education and enforcement program for the Water Improvement Commission.
* State encouragement of long-range municipal and industrial planning for treatment facilities to reduce all types of pollution.
* Expansion of the clam management program.
* Removal of potato futures trading from the New York Mercantile Exchange.
MAKING A BETTER LIFE FOR THE PEOPLE OF MAINE
Education of our citizens, care of the sick, poor and aged and protection of the rights of workers are among the most important functions of government. Progress in these areas has not kept pace with the growing needs of the people of Maine .
The large rate of high school drop outs and the large percentage of talented young people who fail to go on to higher education are a tragic waste of our human resources. We are not setting fully adequate standards or high enough goals in our health and welfare programs. The rights of workers are not fully protected under present laws.
In each of these areas the Republican Administration has displayed attitudes ranging from insufficient action to complete indifference. The changes in the Employment Security Law enacted by the Republican Legislature in 1961 over vigorous and complete Democratic opposition show a flagrant and cynical disregard for the workers of Maine and their families.
Meeting our obligations in these areas demands changes in the laws, improved facilities and more highly trained personnel. Emphasis must be placed on increased educational opportunities; improved standards of health and welfare care and administration; and constant improvement of our laws to provide better working conditions and to aid those who are unemployed through no fault of their own.
We specifically recommend:
* Federal and increased State aid for education.
* Increased minimum teachers salaries.
* Continued support for and improvement of the School Administrative District Law.
* Strenuous efforts to strengthen the faculty, curriculum and facilities until all teachers colleges are accredited.
* Increased vocational opportunities at the high school level.
* Continued improvement at the Maine vocational Technical Institute and establishment of additional vocational-technical facilities.
* A national scholarship program and a limited state supported post high school scholarship program.
* Accelerated development of the Orono and Portland campuses of the U. of M. through increased appropriations for operating budget and expansion of facilities.
* Helping retarded children by including trainable children in the public school system.
* Additional mobile library service.
* State matching funds for construction, staffing and purchase of books for district libraries.
* Eliminate present unfairnesses and inconsistencies in the coverage of the Employment Security Law.
* Preserve the right of collective bargaining by continued strong opposition to any so-called “right to work” legislation.
* More equitable mileage allowance, longevity under the Jacobs Plan and optional Social Security for State employees.
* Legislation to protect the aged against discrimination in employment.
* Reduction of exemptions under the State Minimum Wage Law and raising the minimum to $1.15 an hour.
* Improve the workmen’s compensation law, including shortening of the waiting period and payment of full compensation pending an appeal by the employer.
* Protection of American workers from unfair competition by more effective control of the importation of Canadian labor.
HEALTH AND WELFARE
* Critical need at the Boys Training Center dictates either expansion at the present site, relocation or consideration of a second institution.
* Increased staff and facilities until accreditation is reached for the two mental institutions and Pineland Training Center.
* Additional staff and buildings made imperative by chronic overcrowding at certain correctional institutions.
* More efficient control of Aid for Dependent Children expenditures and more frequent and thorough case work in all welfare programs.
* An education-leave policy in the personnel law to further the training of qualified state workers.
* A graduate level training program for psychologists and social workers at the U. of M.
* A comprehensive medical care insurance program for the aged through Social Security.
* More adequate payments to private hospitals for services rendered to patients under aid programs.
* Removal of relative responsibility as a factor in granting aid under the State’s Old Age Assistance, Aid to the Disabled and Aid to the Blind programs.
TOWARD MORE RESPONSIVE GOVERNMENT
We have a government which is not fully responsive to or representative of the people of Maine. Many of the most vital decisions and actions are performed by public officials too far removed from the public and not directly responsible to anyone. No matter how much it is desired by the voters, a progressive program for the State cannot be effected if the machinery of government remains antiquated and the power of decision and action is widely scattered.
The Executive Branch needs to be strengthened to allow a governor authority to match his responsibility. Changes are needed in other areas of the courts and government to make them better able to serve the people of the State.
We specifically recommend:
* Calling a constitutional convention.
* Abolishing constitutional limitations denying some communities equitable representation.
* Annual legislative sessions with staggered four-year terms for Senators.
* Appointment by the Governor, for his term of office, of the Secretary of State, Attorney General, Budget Officer and Director of Finance, with Senate approval.
* Abolishing the Executive Council.
* Abolishing the office of State Treasurer.
* Requiring line budgeting for all counties.
* A system of district jails.
* Study and make recommendations to improve local assessment procedures and practices regarding personal, property and excise taxes.
* Limited real estate tax relief for persons over 65.
* Creation of a public defender system.
* Adoption of new rules of criminal procedure.
* Review of the criminal laws to establish the need for a comprehensive codification and revision.
* Establishment of a system of judicial review of criminal sentences.
* We have a responsibility to provide sufficient revenues for the improvements and services recommended.
* We believe that economic growth will expand revenues from existing sources.
* We are certain increased services can in many instances be provided through firm executive direction and the use of existing departments and personnel.
* We recommend that capital improvements which will be used by generations to follow should be financed through State bonds.
* We recommend that any demonstrated need for new revenues should be met through legislative action by tax programs in which the principle of ability-to-pay is paramount.