For Immediate Release:
Sept. 13, 2013
Contact: Jodi Quintero: 841-6279
Eves Urges Action to Address Maineís Aging Crisis
Sally from Damariscotta has taught in Maine schools for more than 30 years. Today, she is being forced to sell her home -- where she raised her family --- and move to North Carolina with her children. With rising property taxes, limited transportation to get to the doctor and the grocery store, and higher heating bills, she canít stay in her home on a fixed income.
Sally is like the rest us. She worked hard all her life, paid taxes, and has given back to her community, but now she has no options.
Good morning Iím Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick.
Sally is not alone. Many middle class families in Maine are facing the same challenges. In fact, Maine is facing an aging crisis. One in four Mainers will be 65 or older in the next 20 years. We have the highest percentage of baby boomers in the nation. A huge percentage of our experienced workforce will be retiring, and without the influx of skilled workers to replace them, these trends could have a devastating human and economic impact on our state.
In addition to the challenges this creates for Maineís business community, the rapidly growing aging population can lead to situations where older Mainers like Sally, who have worked hard all of their life and think of this great state as their only home, are forced to leave their families, houses and their communities so they can either make ends meet or receive necessary support services. And the children and grandchildren of people like Sally struggle to balance work hours with caring for or providing financial support to a loved one.
We have an obligation to parents and grandparents to ensure they can age with dignity but we also have an obligation to our younger generations to ensure our stateís economic future.
With a rapidly aging population, Maine must attract more young families who can earn a living and put down roots here. That means growing jobs, investing in our public education and workforce, and championing our state. My wife and I moved to Maine and started a family here over a decade ago because we knew Maine would be a great place to raise our children.
Maine has been a blessing to our family and it could be the same for so many other young families looking to plant roots.
Whether you are a baby boomer, or a family member who has had to stop working to care for an ill parent, or an employer looking at a rapidly retiring workforce, we all have stake in addressing this crisis.
We all have a stake in making sure our parents and grandparents can stay in their homes longer and can rely on good transportation system to get to the doctor, to go to the grocery store and remain independent.
We all have a stake in ensuring we have opportunities for our parents and grandparents to stay in the workforce longer if they choose to.
We all have stake in attracting young people to our state to ensure our economic future.
If we do nothing, we will have failed our parents and grandparents. If we do nothing, we will have failed our economy and families fighting to stay in the middle class. We must act now to make a difference. Do nothing is not an option.
Thatís why earlier this week, I launched a new roundtable series on aging in Maine to bring together the states top experts together to address these challenges.
We will provide lawmakers with next steps in January to ensure our parents and grandparents have the opportunity to age with dignity, while also providing opportunities to grow the number of young families who can earn a living and put down roots in our great state.
The challenge is great. The timing is right. Our opportunity is now.
Thank you for listening. Iím Speaker of the House Mark Eves.