INSTEAD OF BAND-AID TYPE SOLUTIONS, THAT OFTEN MAKE MATTERS WORSE, WE MUST ADDRESS THE UNDERLYING CAUSE

LONG-TERM PROBLEMS REQUIRE
LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS THAT GET AT THE ROOT CAUSE

THE ECONOMY

Reduce the tax burden on individuals and business to be more in line with Maine’s regional neighbors

Many often opine about why young people continue to leave our state. The answer is simple – a perceived lack of opportunity and the (quite real) high cost of living. These are literally the “elephants in the room”.

 

Maine is the third highest tax-burdened state in the country. This excessive taxation, along with regulatory mismanagement, are crushing the working-class Mainer. As some politicians brag about giving away this, or giving away that, we ask, “who’s paying for these giveaways?” Every working Mainer and our employers are.

 

Costly giveaways of our tax dollars, along with ubiquitous band-aid type solutions, are often presented as remedies. They are not. This approach fuels our economic challenges, fosters unfair and debilitating dependency, increases our cost of living, and feeds inflation.

 

This winter, many Mainers will have to choose between putting food on their tables or heating their homes. Maine’s increasingly visible economic woes simply cannot be the new normal. Bad policy on top of bad policy is not the answer. Instead, our representatives must collaborate to address the underlying issues -- and work together to harness our state’s true potential.

EDUCATION

Increase focus on technical, trade, and vocational education programs in Maine's schools

 

School districts are often judged by how many students they send off to four-year colleges. But what if we asked a different question? What if instead, we examine the question of where our students end up two years after high school graduation? When viewed through that lens, we see a 63% persistence rate. This means that 37% of students who enroll in a 2 - or 4 - year college drop out before reaching the fall semester of their second year. Those who push the “college for all” message may have good intentions, but it sets way too many up for failure, and saddles them with huge amounts of unnecessary debt.  In addition, that message has in effect wreaked havoc on our skilled trades industries by dwindling the talent pool here in Maine. It’s no secret that a college degree is not a guarantee for success, nor is it a required for every career. Students with a preference for hands-on learning need greater access to programs where they can learn skills that are highly sought after and will lead them to meaningful careers, most often upon graduation of high school.

 

Increase focus on career exploration by enabling greater collaboration between Education and Industry

 

Currently, a significant amount of funding goes towards training programs that have little demand and little impact. By shifting those dollars towards career exploration efforts, we can create greater collaboration between industry and our public schools. This collaboration results in two positive outcomes. First, an increased desire to learn. Students are now able to answer why they’re learning what they’re learning. Second, it eliminates the perceived lack of career opportunities in Maine, which has led to many of our youth leaving the state.

 

Foster greater collaboration and partnership with educators and parents

It is well-known the more involved parents are in their children’s education, the greater success they will have. If anything positive came from the last few years, parents who were tasked with teaching at home gained insight into their children’s education. This empowered parents to be more equipped to support their children in ways they had never been able to before.

 

Fostering an environment where teachers and parents are partners in a child’s education will not only lead to greater outcomes for students, but will also create accountability of all parties – students, parents, and educators. This will also create greater transparency into resources and capabilities in both the home and at school, allowing for vested parties to be more proactive in course correcting where necessary.

 

Promote school choice and expand charter schools

 

School choice should not be an exclusive privilege that excludes families without the means to move to a more affluent community or pay for private education. Regardless of financial resources, if your child’s assigned school is not meeting the needs of that child, you should have the ability to take your tax dollars to a school that will. We must also remove the cap on the number of charter schools in the state of Maine, which arbitrarily limits opportunity and stifles future success.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Allow for easier transition of skilled workers moving to Maine by accepting good standing licenses from outside the state

 

People often move to Maine with expectations of continuing their careers, only to find their credentials are invalid and/or they need to start all over. Whether moving from another state or another country, the transition and ability to continue one’s livelihood must be as easy and as efficient as possible. Policies that go against these principals hurt these new Mainers and the consumers, who are forced to pay higher prices due to the reduction in supply of their much-needed skills. Maine can and should pressure the federal government to re-evaluate immigration policies to allow those coming here the ability to continue their careers as quickly as possible.  

 

Reduce the cost of doing business in Maine to foster job creation

 

Maine’s excessive regulations and high energy costs (among other expenses) take away from businesses’ ability to thrive and create jobs. These high costs of doing business also deter new employers from moving to our state. We should learn from the more business-friendly policies from our neighboring state, New Hampshire, and do away with burdensome red tape and policies that drive high energy costs in Maine. Removing these barriers will jumpstart Maine’s economy which will provide greater opportunities for all Mainers.

HEALTH CARE

Reduce health care costs and improve quality of care by incentivizing competition among medical providers

 

Unlike any other good or service Mainers purchase, health care costs are almost always unknown until after the services have been provided. A federal law to address this issue calls for price transparency, and went into effect on January 1, 2021. The intentions of this law are two-fold. First, it allows patients to make an informed decision in regards to health care costs. Second, the law allows for the comparison of those costs across providers.

 

As of today, only two hospitals in Maine (Maine General in Augusta and St. Joseph’s in Bangor) are in compliance with this law. Federal enforcement has been weak; therefore, it is incumbent upon the state to protect patients by requiring providers to follow the law.

 

Rebuild and grow Maine’s health care workforce

 

Prior to the pandemic, our state was already experiencing a shortage of nurses, doctors, and other health care professionals. This shortage was exacerbated when the now antiquated COVID-19 vaccination requirements resulted in a devastating 10% decline in our health care workforce. By eliminating these mandates and recognizing medical licenses from outside of Maine, we can bring our health care capabilities to the level we need and expect.