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Republican lawmakers rally with construction workers to encourage Democrats to stop obstructing the 2013 hospital debt payment bill.
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For Immediate Release

Date: 04/18/14

As Unemployment Drops Again, House Republicans Tout Reforms

GOP tax, regulatory, fiscal, welfare, health reforms driving Maine's economy

AUGUSTA - House Republicans on Friday praised news from the Maine Department of Labor that Maine's unemployment rate has dropped below six percent for the first time since September 2008, to 5.9 percent in March.

"Over the past few years, Gov. Paul LePage and Republican lawmakers have implemented economic reforms that broke up the decades-old, big government status quo in Maine," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport. "We have a long way to go, but the repeated drop in Maine's unemployment rate is a sign that Republican reforms are working for Maine's economy."

Maine's pre-recession unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in January 2008 and reached a high of 8.4 percent in December 2009 through March 2010. At 5.9 percent, Maine's unemployment rate is now 68 percent of the way to its pre-recession levels.

"Since 2011, Republicans have implemented pro-growth changes that reformed our tax code, streamlined regulations, overhauled Maine's health insurance laws, averted a pension crisis, paid off hospital debt, instituted welfare-to-work initiatives, and much more," said Rep. Amy Volk of Scarborough, ranking House Republican on the Legislature's Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development (LCRED) Committee. "Republican reforms are kicking in and opening up more opportunities for Mainers."

Maine's employment ratio—the percentage of the population that is employed—has grown 3.7 times faster than the national average since March 2012, and 3 times faster since March 2011.

"This tells us that reductions in Maine's unemployment rate are a result of Mainers finding work, not giving up on their work search as so many people are doing nationally," said Rep. Ellen Winchenbach (R-Waldoboro) of the LCRED Committee.

Democrats have had to retract false jobs claims and most recently are pushing a phony job creation ranking from a liberal think tank that does not account for differences in population growth.

"After attacking Gov. LePage for pointing out various needed areas of improvement in Maine's public policy, saying that such constructive criticism is bad advertising for Maine, Democratic politicians and allies have been guilty of the same," said Assistant House Republican Leader Alex Willette of Mapleton.

"Liberals have been seeing Maine's unemployment rate drop in the wake of conservative reforms and have scrambled to push misleading data in order to make Maine's economy look bad," he added. "It's disappointing that liberal politicians and their allies have reverted to this cynical gambit to retain their decades-long death grip on Maine's historically struggling economy."

BACKGROUND

In 2011, Maine became the 44th state to cap TANF cash welfare benefits at five years and used the savings to boost job search and training programs at DOL, DOE, and DHHS.

The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University estimated that the Republican tax reform instituted in 2011 that reduced the income tax burden would create 3,741 jobs and $277 million in disposable income by 2015.

There are 7,000 jobs currently available on the Maine Job Bank.

GOP public pension reform eliminated 40 percent of the $4.1 billion long term taxpayer liability, bringing praise from bond rating agencies.

Since Maine's health insurance reform of 2011, eight times as many small businesses are seeing rate decreases and only one-quarter as many are seeing large rate increases of 20 percent or more.

Republicans' regulatory reform initiative streamlined rules for growth-oriented small businesses.

Republicans put a total of $750 million back into Maine's private sector economy by finally paying off the state's debt to its hospitals.

[Attached photo: Republican lawmakers rally with construction workers to encourage Democrats to stop obstructing the 2013 hospital debt payment bill.]

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