Entries Filed in 'Editorials'

Hope is on the horizon for Maine’s small businesses and healthcare

July 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Creative Economy, Editorials, Issue 41

Front Street Shipyard has enhanced Belfast's creative economy. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Front Street Shipyard has enhanced Belfast’s creative economy. Photo by Ramona du Houx


EDITORIAL

Artists, artisans, farmers, engineers, designers, IT computer professionals, inventors, microbrewers, and unique retailers can be found in every corner of our state. More café’s and restaurants are opening daily. Maine’s creative economy, embracing technology, talent and tolerance, is in full swing. These, more than 143,000 small businesses, entrepreneurs are our mainstay.

Two out of every three jobs are created by a small business—and more than 280,000 Mainers are employed by a small business.

They are forging ahead, despite a bad business climate created by Gov. LePage’s administration. But small businesses hurt when their taxes go up because the state has cut back funds to municipalities forcing towns to increase property taxes. They hurt when there is a new law that doesn’t allow a business, where you live and work, to deduct part of their property expenses on the Maine tax return. They hurt when people’s incomes stagnate.

Under Governor LePage’s watch, Maine ranks forty-sixth in the nation for jobs recovered since the recession. While the rest of the country has recovered 101 percent of lost jobs, Maine has only recovered 48 percent, and most of them are in the Portland area.

According to CNBC, Maine is ranked 45th on its list of America’s Top States for Business– including specific rankings as 46th in infrastructure and 48th in overall economy.

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Controversial Alexander Group report another example of LePage mismanagement

May 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Editorials, Health Care, State Representatives

Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

By Rep. Farnsworth- the House chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee

What can a million dollars get the state of Maine? Well, if you’re Governor Paul LePage the answer is a whole lot of talking points from a Tea Party ally for the campaign trail – but nothing that actually helps Maine people.

You may have already heard about the controversial Alexander Group. This Rhode Island firm is led by the former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Gary Alexander. Under his mismanagement, Pennsylvania lost $7 million in the consolidation of home care worker contracts. Mr. Alexander also cut off health care for 89,000 children – including kids with life-threatening illnesses who were mistakenly deemed ineligible.

Those things alone should have been huge red flags. But the governor secretly awarded the Alexander Group a $925,000 no-bid contract to study health care expansion and anti-poverty programs.

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LePage’s sudden push for nursing homes is hypocritical compared with three year record of harm

May 10th, 2014 · No Comments · Editorials, Guest Columns, State Representatives

By State Senator Colleen Lachowicz of Waterville.

One of the reasons I ran for the State Senate is to help our seniors. And I’m especially proud to be a member of the state’s Health and Human Services Committee where we spent much of our time troubleshooting challenges facing our aging population. And so as a first term lawmaker, you can imagine my surprise when I heard that the governor was falsely accusing Democrats of failing to fund our nursing homes.

When I first heard that Governor LePage flipped the script and blamed Democrats for not doing enough to help our seniors, I scratched my head…figuring Governor LePage forgot about all that the Democrats and the Legislature did this session to help our seniors, including a big bump in funding for Maine’s nursing homes.

I also wondered if Governor LePage remembered that a bill, sponsored by my colleague Democratic State Senator Margaret Craven, increased funding to our nursing homes by $12 million starting in just six weeks on July 1st. I figured he also forgot about the bipartisan, nearly unanimous budget that allocated $10 million—with a federal match of more than $16 million— for our nursing homes for the next two years. Governor LePage vetoed that bill too.

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Will LePage continue to hold Maine back by vetoing innovation bonds and healthcare?

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Editorials, Issue 40

Maine's capitol at night, photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine’s capitol at night, photo by Ramona du Houx

Other New England states have recovered almost all the job losses due to the Great Recession. Maine stands alone as the only east coast state that has built back less than half the jobs caused by the economic crash. Not the kind of reputation Maine needs, and most of blame falls at the feet of Governor Paul LePage with his dangerous policies and way of governance.

He hurts the state’s reputation by putting down the people of Maine and discourages businesses owners who may be looking to Maine to locate in. He has publicly badmouthed the President, Maine lawmakers, women, students and children. A governor should be promoting the great qualities the people Maine have— their tireless work ethic, hospitality, ability to be easily trained and their community mindfulness. Not to mention the amazing natural attributes the state has from mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and a 2,000-mile long coast.

Last year the Legislature approved bonds for infrastructure improvements and the people of Maine voted for them. This year LePage used these bonds as a bargaining tool (again) by refusing to release them until he got what he demanded. Meanwhile thousands of construction workers were delayed from working. They had to wait until LePage was done using them as pawns.

This session a $50 million bond proposal passed the Legislature, of that $40 million are for an innovation/small business bond proposal was approved by the Legislature.

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What poverty looks like in Maine

January 27th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Editorials, Public Safety

By Robyn Merrill, a senior policy analyst at Maine Equal Justice Partners, a nonprofit legal aid organization that works to find solutions to poverty.

An increasing number of Maine children are growing up poor.Yet Gov. Paul LePage has offered no solutions to this ever-increasing problem.

Over the course of his administration, the number of homeless children in our state has grown, drastically increasing between 2010 and 2012.

While homelessness is going down nationally, in Maine it’s going up, driven by misguided policies in the guise of “reform.”

And according to the annual Kids Count report, nearly one in four children younger than five in Maine is growing up in poverty.

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With close to 3,500 Mainers going without unemployment since Jan 1 there should be outrage

January 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Economy, Editorials

Close to 3,500 people in Maine have gone without an unemployment check since January 1st. Imagine how hard that is for families, communities and kids. These are people who were working hard and by no fault of their own found themselves out of work. That’s why the federal government created unemployment. Congress used to understand a helping hand doesn’t mean a hand out. It means help. Under Bush this was a non issue and unemployment extensions happened without question.

Every paper should put this story on the front page, counting the days it is taking Congress to take appropriate action to help our people and our economy by authorizing these unemployment checks.

Write letters to the editor and let Congress know you stand with the people.

The following is a piece in the New York Times explaining more.

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Maine’s creative economy moves the state forward, but it’s time for government help

January 5th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Economy, Editorials, Issue 39, Taxes

income gapResearch and Development (R&D) funds from state and the federal government have fueled innovation and inventions for decades, making America’s economy grow. R&D has kept us on the cutting edge of industry changes and medical breakthroughs. If it weren’t for federal grants the Internet would still be a concept. From new medicines to computer technologies “we the people” have had a hand, through our taxes, in helping businesses that use these innovations across the country get off the ground. Some of these businesses now make billions. So, why not ask these businesses to help invest into new innovations that have been waiting for grants. Seems it would only be fair if they gave more in taxes to help fuel our economy in this way.

There’s no doubt about it America’s economy is improving; it has been since President Barack Obama’s stimulus package took hold. That Recovery Act fueled needed areas in our economy by keeping first responders, and teachers employed while investing in R&D to grow innovative jobs.

1517623_10152173300654238_1036289131_nHere in Maine broadband IT technology is beginning to transform rural parts of Maine that are far from metropolitan hubs. What started on a small scale, with Governor John E. Baldacci’s ConnectME initiative, Maine now hosts some of the best broadband connections in the country, yet more needs to be done. And projects funded by innovation grants at the University of Maine show the promises of industries that will employ thousands of workers in the years to come.

While there is definitely a deficit of trained workers for job openings in IT and other innovation jobs, that problem is starting to be addressed by lawmakers in Augusta, who in a bipartisan effort formed a committee that has visited all areas of the state to listen to the community. They passed some laws based on their findings and are working on others.

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We can still accept the federal government’s offer for health-care coverage for 70,000 Mainers

January 5th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Editorials, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles, Issue 39

As of January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been insuring over 2 million Americans. But over 70,000 Mainers, including 3,000 veterans in Maine, have been denied health insurance because Governor Paul LePage refused to accept federal funding for MaineCare from the ACA.

At no cost to Maine taxpayers, the state could have accepted the federal government’s offer to expand MaineCare health insurance for these people. Under the deal, with the first three years of the ACA the federal government would pay 100 percent of the costs of the MaineCare expansion. That’s three years. Then the state would have to pitch in, at the most just 10 percent of the cost. By anybody’s book that’s a good deal. With healthier workers, productivity increases and so do people’s outlook.

Most importantly lives would be saved, and businesses would grow.

Accepting federal funds would create and save 4,100 jobs in Maine, according to the Maine Center on Economic Policy.

Analyses by the Kaiser Foundation and the conservative Heritage Foundation show Maine could save $690 million over the next decade from Medicaid expansion. Maine is one of ten states that will see Medicaid expenditures go down over ten years.

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Why a helping hand from the government helps our economy

January 5th, 2014 · No Comments · Editorials, Issue 39

If we didn’t have government programs aimed to help reduce poverty by providing assistance to low-income Americans, the actual poverty rate in the United States would be nearly twice as high as it is today.

It’s inexcusable that the rate is currently at 15 percent. This is a generational high has a lot to do with Republicans in Congress, and in states like Maine, who have extreme Republican governors, who have cut back on these economically beneficial programs. Yes economically beneficial. It is far better to lend a helping hand to those in need than to let them become homeless and ill.

The vast majority of those who accept assistance from state and/or federal programs are people who had a bad turn in life and just need society believing in and supporting them temporarily. They don’t want to have to live off the State; they are forced to because they need the essentials. Franklin D. Roosevelt, with the aid of Frances Perkins, understood this, and his New Deal became a beacon of hope for millions in this country. Social Security is a part of our national security.

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What happens to people critically ill without the ACA in Maine?

January 5th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Editorials, Health Care, Issue 39

by State Senator John Patrick of Rumford

We are just a few days into 2014. For many of us, ringing in a new year is the marker of new beginnings. Often, we make new year’s resolutions that include a pledge to be healthier. For many, we are fortunate: accessing health care and getting our medical needs tended to is not met with obstacles and challenges. But, for the tens of thousands of Mainers who don’t have health insurance and can’t afford the out-of-pocket expense of going to the doctor, getting basic health care is often saved just for emergencies.

When folks can’t get the care they need, more serious health problems often arise and the quality, and sometimes even the length of their life, is diminished. For 3,000 veterans and tens of thousands of other Mainers, New Year’s Day was not likely a day for celebration. It was the day they lost their existing MaineCare health insurance.

What is going to happen to those folks who are in the middle of treatment for cancer or diabetes? What about those who have a heart condition? What choices do they now have?

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