By Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick
Good jobs and strong wages.
These were the priorities of the past year for Democrats and many Republicans in the Legislature. Maine’s comeback story will be written by our growing middle class, our vibrant entrepreneurs and those who are innovating our traditional industries.
I’m proud to report to you that lawmakers made good progress for working people in our state over the past year. Democrats, Republicans and unenrolled members of the Legislature came together to put more money in the pockets of Maine families and to invest in our economic future.
We passed a middle class tax cut -- More than 570,000 Maine families will see a lower tax bill next year.
We doubled property tax relief -- for ALL Maine families, making it easier for seniors to keep their homes and for young families to realize the American dream.
And we invested in our workers, our students and our children -- the VERY keys to our economic success.
Maine continues to rank among the worst in the nation for job growth. Our wages lag the nation and New England.
Lawmakers set out to help foster economic growth by investing in our workers and students and growing industries. We conducted a bipartisan jobs tour across the state from York to Aroostook.
The loggers in Rumford, the businesses and students in Presque Isle, the farmers in central Maine and the machinists in North Berwick all were telling us the same thing: Investing in our workforce is the best investment in our economic future.
We listened, and we learned and we led.
We created the Put ME to Work program, which helps workers get the skills and training they need for the jobs of the future.
Investments such as these already have led to workers getting better paying jobs. Students from community college machinist programs, from York to Presque Isle, are graduating with jobs lined up at manufacturing companies paying more than $17 dollars per hour. These programs have a near 100 percent job placement rate.
We also increased funding for our local public schools and early education programs, while working to make college more affordable.
These are the steps that will help keep our young people here and attract new Mainers to our state. Economic progress is made when everyone has a fair shot at a good education.
We made great strides for workers and students in our state. We did it by working with our colleagues across the aisle. This is the tradition of great Maine leaders and the way governing should be in our state.
If we want to grow good jobs and strong wages in our state, we need to work together to invest in our people. Maine’s comeback story depends on it.