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For Immediate Release

Date: 03/10/14

Gov's Business Zone Proposal Means Real Reform for Maine's Economy

House Republicans to Dems: Give jobs a chance

AUGUSTA - Maine House Republican Leaders on Monday expressed enthusiasm and support for Governor Paul LePage's "Open for Business Zone" proposal being rolled out in a visit to Brunswick.

The Governor's proposal would create geographic zones in Maine that offer tax relief, regulatory reform, energy incentives, and Right to Work in order to encourage job creation and economic development.

"The Governor's plan offers real reforms for Maine's economy to kick-start job creation and shake up the status quo," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport. "These are proven job-creating policies that have worked in other states and deserve a shot in Maine. I will be advocating whole-heartedly in the Legislature for the Governor's jobs proposal."

Rep. Fredette expects the "Right to Work" provision to be especially contentious. Democrats last year used their majority to silence debate on a Right to Work measure and have stated repeatedly that they're unwilling to compromise or negotiate on the issue, despite surveys showing broad support for Right to Work in Maine.

"The Governor seems to be trying to offer some middle ground, where he sees Right to Work states creating jobs but Maine Democrats won't budge, so he's proposing a limited implementation in certain areas of the state," said Rep. Fredette. "I think Democrats owe it to everyone out there looking for a job in Maine to give this policy a chance."

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, private sector payrolls in Right to Work states grew three times faster than those of forced unionism states from 1990 to 2010. Opponents say Right to Work means lower incomes, but when adjusting for the vast differences in cost of living among states, workers in Right to Work states actually earn 4.1 percent more than those in states with forced unionism.

"The Governor's proposal is a ray of light for young or displaced workers in Maine who don't care about politics; they just want a job," said Assistant House Republican Leader Alex Willette of Mapleton. "This is a bold, new idea for Maine's economy and I will be urging my Democratic colleagues to listen to what the Governor has to say and approach it with an open mind."

"For decades, the default job creation strategy from majority Democrats in Augusta has revolved around expanding welfare and putting the next generation in debt," added Rep. Willette. "It's time for a new direction and the Governor's proposal does exactly that."

Background on Right to Work and the Governor's Proposal

Chris Hall, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, on Governor's plan: "The first thing that came to my mind is this: He is offering us a home-run strategy, a strategy designed to compete at the national level for site location opportunities."

Testimony of John Butera, LePage Senior Economic Advisor, before the Labor Committee: "I spent 9 years with the nation's leading site location ?rm and advised dozens of Fortune 500 companies on where they could best maximize their opportunity for success. The reality is, I've sat in corporate board rooms and was told point blank by CEOs and Presidents that they would not consider expanding into a state that was not Right to Work."

Former Assistant House Democratic Leader Terry Hayes: "everything the Republicans have been saying about union influence is true."

Maine House district surveys show strong support for Right to Work (Question: Would you support 'Right to Work' legislation in Maine, which would prevent unions from forcing workers to pay dues if they don't want to be a member?)

- Sidney/Oakland: 80.4% support

- Waterboro/Lyman: 77% support

- Calais: 71% support

- Belgrade/Manchester: 71% support

- Knox/Waldo County: 67% support

- Lincoln County: 72% support

- Chelsea/Somerville/Washington-area: 67% support

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Contact:
David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793