Maine Senate votes for Task Force to boost workforce and the economy
Sen. Libby’s order creates panel of lawmakers, educators and business experts
AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a joint order by Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, to create a new task force of elected officials and experts in the fields of education and business, charged with addressing one of the biggest challenges holding back Maine’s economy: inadequacies in the state workforce.
“For Maine to truly thrive, we need an economy that’s humming along thanks to its fully engaged and skilled workforce,” said Libby, the Assistant Senate Democratic Leader. “But there are challenges in getting there. The first is that Maine’s population of working-age people is shrinking dramatically while the population of retirees or those soon to retire continues to grow. The second is that while Mainers are hardworking and eager to pull their own weight, many face barriers to full participation in the economy — barriers such as a lack of education or specific skillsets necessary for available jobs. This task force will bring together experts and policymakers to address both issues, and I’m eager to see it begin its work.”
The Task Force on Maine’s 21st Century Economy and Workforce would include 16 members appointed by the Senate President and Speaker of the House, including four senators and four representatives, as well as:
• One member representing the interests of the University of Maine System;
• One member representing the interests of the Maine Community College System;
• One member representing the interests of apprenticeship programs in the state;
• One member representing the interests of providers and teachers of adult education in the state;
• One member representing the interests of private colleges in the state;
• One member representing the interests of the business community;
• One member representing the interests of a Maine business that employs more than 1,000 workers; and
• One member representing the interests of a Maine business that employs fewer than 1,000 workers;
The Commissioner of the Department of Education and the Commissioner of the Department of Labor, or their designees, would also be invited to participate as members of the task force.
According to the order, the task force would be enabled to submit a report the Legislature, including suggested legislation, by the end of the current legislation, and is required to submit a final report — including its findings, recommendations and suggested legislation — for consideration during next year’s session, no later than March 1, 2018.
The order faces an additional vote in the House of Representatives.