Governor LePage Works to Make Maine Competitive, Liberals Insist on Status Quo

September 27, 2013

For Immediate Release: Friday, Sept. 27 Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA –Governor Paul R. LePage responded today to Forbes ranking Maine as the worst state in the nation to do business.

“According to Forbes, the best states in the nation have low energy costs, low taxes and pro-business climates,” said Governor LePage. “After four decades of liberal rule that has burdened Maine with high electricity rates, high taxes, overregulation and a hostile business climate, it’s no wonder that Forbes would put our state at the bottom of the list.”

Forbes formulated its list based on six crucial factors for businesses: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.

“My administration has been working hard to improve these factors for business,” the Governor said. “We passed the largest tax cut in Maine’s history, we stopped the automatic gas tax and we are directing Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds to reduce electricity costs for Mainers. We have cut bureaucratic red tape, and we have balanced careful stewardship of the environment with the needs of the business community.

“This is just a start—it will take more than two-and-a-half years to reverse 40 years of economic damage inflicted by liberal politicians,” said the Governor. “Much more needs to be done to improve Maine’s competitiveness. But liberal politicians are fighting tirelessly to maintain the status quo. Instead of making tough choices to reign in government spending, they raised sales and lodging taxes to feed government expansion. Rather than working to improve the business climate, they insist on adding 70,000 more people to the welfare rolls.

“These liberal politicians refuse to lower Maine’s electricity costs by embracing clean, affordable and renewable energy, such as hydropower,” the Governor said. “Instead, they want Maine ratepayers to give $200 million of their hard-earned money to a Norwegian company to experiment with expensive and inefficient wind power. This defies common sense, and it drives energy costs even higher.”

Virginia ranked No. 1 on the Forbes list because of its business-friendly government policies, strong incentives and a tort system that is deemed one of the best in the nation for businesses. Forbes also noted that Virginia is one of 24 states with right-to-work laws, which allow employees to decide for themselves whether they want to join or financially support a union. Only 4.4 percent of Virgina’s workers are in unions.

In Maine, even if workers do not want to join a labor union, they are forced to financially support it. States with right-to-work laws are considered more business-friendly than states with compulsory union rules.

According to Forbes, Utah is ranked No. 3 because it has a pro-business climate and energy costs that are 29 percent below the national average. Utah is also a right-to-work state.

North Dakota has the nation’s third-best economic growth forecast over the next five years because it has embraced the energy business. The Bakken oil shale fields in the western part of the state account for much of that growth. North Dakota is also a right-to-work state. “Liberal politicians and their union allies oppose right-to-work laws, they oppose lower energy costs, they oppose improvements in education, they oppose health-insurance reforms and they oppose any effort to reform welfare and reduce Maine’s poverty rate,” said the Governor. “Until these politicians get their heads out the sand and take a look at what other states are doing to be competitive, the status quo won’t change.

“But I will keep fighting to improve our business climate and to attract more companies that provide good-paying jobs for Mainers,” Governor LePage said. “Liberal politicians kowtow to unions, social-justice organizations and environmental extremists, but I answer only to hard-working Mainers and their families.”