House Democratic Office
Nov. 27, 2013
Contact: Ann Kim 287-1488, cell: 233-1838
REP. HAMANN: LET’S LOOK FOR WAYS TO IMPROVE THE SECURITY OF HARDWORKING MAINERS
Dem focus on economic fairness, strengthened economy and middle class
The holidays are a time to reflect on all that we have: family, friends and the good times and accomplishments of the past year. It’s also a chance to pause and think about neighbors who may be less fortunate.
Good morning. I’m Rep. Scott Hamann of South Portland. Thank you for tuning in.
When the Legislature reconvenes in January, we’ll have the chance to fight for economic fairness and measures that strengthen our economy and help more Mainers climb into the middle class. We know that despite hard work, many Mainers are struggling to climb into the middle class – or stay in it.
Mainers working full-time jobs at minimum wage earn only $15,600 a year – clearly not enough to support a family or even keep up with the rising cost of essentials like milk, bread and heating fuel.
More Maine children – nearly one in four – are living in poverty. And the USDA reports that in New England, Maine children struggle the most with hunger. Inadequate nutrition hurts not only our children but the long-term health of our state’s economy and workforce. Food security and economic security are two sides of the same coin.
Democrats want to see more Maine people climbing the ladder of opportunity. Health care, education, living wages and tax fairness – these are some of the most important rungs of that ladder.
Access to affordable health care makes an enormous difference to working families. Seventy thousand of our friends and neighbors – including 3,000 veterans – could gain health care if we accept federal health care dollars.
For too many Mainers, a serious illness or injury could mean financial disaster. Medical bills figure into more than half of the bankruptcies in our country. There’s something wrong when our friends and neighbors aren’t able to see a doctor when they get sick or hurt, or to prevent illness.
The federal offer would inject $250 million into Maine’s economy and create more than 3,100 jobs. But if we don’t take it, Maine will lose out on $700,000 a day – or $500 every minute.
Gov. Paul LePage has rejected the federal government’s offer. Democrats will continue to fight because we believe every family deserves a family doctor.
Education is another cornerstone that the middle class is built upon, whether it’s early childhood education, K-12 or post-secondary education.
Children’s early years are crucial. Leaders in education, business, law enforcement and the military recognize the importance of early childhood for brain development. Smart investments in our kids pay off. Every dollar invested in high-quality early care and education provides a return of $4 to $16. It’s the right thing to do – not just for the kids who deserve a fair shot at success but for our communities, our economy, our future workforce and our state’s long-term prosperity.
In the next session, we’ll have chances to support early childhood education as well as proposals that put higher education within reach for more Mainers.
A college degree makes a big difference when it comes to livelihoods and careers. On average, workers with four-year degrees make $1.3 million more over their lifetimes than those who don’t have degrees beyond their high school diplomas.
Democrats will continue to stand up for tax fairness. Working with our Republican and independent colleagues, we were able to blunt the property tax hikes in the governor’s original budget proposal – tax hikes that resulted from the previous Legislature’s Republican tax breaks that largely benefited the wealthy. We’ll continue to work on ways to reduce property taxes for middle-class families, the Mainers who are most affected by this regressive form of taxation.
As we enjoy the holidays and look toward the New Year, let’s look for opportunities to improve the security of hardworking Mainers. I’m so grateful for what I have. I will be working with my fellow Democrats to make sure more of our friends and neighbors have the same opportunities.
I’m Rep. Scott Hamann of South Portland. Thank you for listening. Happy Holidays.