Radio Address: Johnson says: LePage’s recycled, failed policies aren’t working for Maine. We need policies with a shelf-life longer than the next campaign cycle

Posted: August 22, 2014 | Front Page, Senator Johnson, Weekly Radio Address

Good Morning. This is State Senator Chris Johnson of Somerville. I’ve served in the State Senate for nearly three years now—and if there’s one issue that has dominated conversation, it’s jobs and the economy. More personally, it’s how folks feel about their financial situation.


Sen. Chris Johnson recording the radio address

Sen. Chris Johnson recording the radio address

Whether I’m talking to one of the many retirees in my district, or a young family who is just getting a start here in Maine, a common anxiety is financial security.


How far can the paycheck be stretched? Which bills can be paid this month—and which ones will get placed on the back burner until next month?


The nagging worry of the unexpected: what happens if the car breaks down or something like a leaky roof happens at home?


And, those are just the short term, day-to-day worries.


There are also the concerns of the future: how to put aside a little extra in the savings account for a vacation, savings for our kids’—or grandkids’ future, and of course, for our retirement.


I couldn’t help thinking about how these worries must be exacerbated and magnified for the nearly 200 workers who lost their jobs last week at Old Town Fuel and Fiber. At 4:00 pm, at the end of their workday, they learned they no longer had a job to return to—nor a paycheck to cash.


What’s next?


That’s a fair question. And, it’s a question that too many Mainers have had to deal with.


In times of crisis or challenge, it is natural to look to others for understanding—for  guidance—for reassurance that there are solutions to the problem.


When the workers of Maine have looked to Governor LePage, his silence has been deafening.


In the case of Old Town Fuel and Fiber, Governor LePage was like a deer in the headlights. He was caught off-guard—with no plan and no vision.


Unfortunately, Mainers have gotten all too used to job lay-offs. But we shouldn’t accept this as the way it has to be.


The United States is no longer in a recession. And in fact, the rest of the country has figured out a way to actually GAIN jobs.


The evidence continues to mount that Governor LePage’s policies are not what Mainers need or can afford.


Maine’s job and economic growth is anemic compared to the rest of the country, including those states right next door. While New England has recovered 124 percent of jobs lost; Maine lags behind, only recovering 58 percent of jobs lost in the recession.


As recently as this week, new jobs numbers came out; and we learned that Maine is at a job DEFICIT of 12,600 jobs since the recession. In July alone, we lost 900 jobs—and that’s according to the state’s Department of Labor.


Governor LePage continues to tell a different story. And, while the campaign season may lend itself to spin, Governor LePage can’t whitewash the fact that Maine, under his leadership, ranks at the bottom of the pack for jobs and the economy.


Since he took office, Maine’s job creation record is among the worst in the country—ranking 46th out of 50 states. And, we have the second worst personal income growth record–ranking 49th in the country for the last four years.


We need leaders who are serious about our economy.


Under Democratic leadership, we established a workforce committee that passed, with overwhelming bipartisan support, a first-of-its kind workforce training bill.


While Governor LePage tanked a $120 million project by rejecting Statoil, an international clean energy innovator, Democratic leadership fought hard to keep their investment here in Maine.


When the Legislature voted to invest millions in research and development to keep up with other New England states, Governor LePage took out his veto pen.


And, when I sponsored a bill—that also received overwhelming bipartisan support—to establish food hubs, the governor’s veto pen was busy once again—rejecting a measure that would have helped our local farmers and fishermen get their products to new markets.


We need leaders who will invest in our state’s competitive advantages, who will build upon our strengths and actually implement a sound plan for our economy—not a governor who is filled with empty rhetoric. Nor a governor who looks the other way when we need leadership.  We need policies with a shelf life longer than the next campaign cycle. What’s clear is that recycling failed policies hasn’t worked for Maine.


Mainers need a vision that will make their lives better, more secure, and something they can build on today and for the long run.


Thank you for listening. I’m State Senator Chris Johnson.