By Rep. Sheryl Briggs
July 9, 2012
When I was elected to the Maine State Legislature in November of 2007, I knew that I needed to work with my fellow elected officials to help the people of our state, especially in western Maine, create more jobs and economic growth. While we lagged behind other parts of the country Maine’s economy did move, slowly, in the right direction.
The economic recession due to deregulation of big banks and investment firms and real estate speculation hit Maine as hard as most other states. This has meant that we had to try to do more with less, but never miss the opportunity to invest in Maine’s future economic growth. Up until last year, the state legislature worked in a bipartisan fashion to responsibly direct our efforts to job creation in the most effective way available to government.
Bonds require the support of two-thirds of the members of both the House and Senate in order to be allowed to go out the citizens of Maine for a vote. We achieved this year after year, without ever endangering Maine’s credit rating up until last year. Last year the Republicans refused to even consider any investments in job creation at all. They also enacted tax giveaways for a very small group of wealthy residents that has caused the bond rating agencies to express concern about Maine’s future revenue and economic stability. These agencies influence what rates we can get on our bonds.
Democrats believe that the best way to improve our economy is by making common sense investments that will help small businesses, support job training and public education. Many small businesses have started after receiving an initial small investment from state grants supported by bonds. Some, such as Bigelow Labs in East Boothbay, have become much larger employers for Mainers. The success of previous research and development bonding to create jobs in Maine makes the failure of my Republican colleagues to overturn the governor’s veto of this bond package impossible to understand given the need for more Mainers to be working.
Over 50,000 Mainers are looking for work and Maine is ranked dead last in the nation for personal income growth.
Democrats believe Maine people should be working their way into the middle class not getting pushed out or held down by public policies targeted at only helping the same people who put us in the mess we’re in. We want good Maine jobs, wages and benefits for a hard day's work. Anything the state can do to help private companies, like road and bridge builders, hospitals and nursing homes, bio tech labs, loggers, farmers and commercial fishermen to be able to stay in their jobs or hire more people must be done.
Maine is the only state in New England whose economy shrunk in 2011 and one of only seven states in the nation to be shrinking economically instead of growing.
Republicans have made it harder to live and work in Maine. We’ve seen one bill after another attacking working people and middle class families, and not a single one will create jobs or get our economy back on track. Their policies have resulted in a cost shift that will lead to high property taxes and more expensive health insurance coverage.
Democrats have a vision for making Maine a place where we can all raise a family and prosper.
It's time we tax fairly and return to cutting wisely, not tax the middle class and cut services to our children, seniors and public safety. It is critically important that we invest in jobs and stop putting up barriers to working people trying to help themselves and their families.