Weekly Radio Address: Boyle says: We need an economic plan that is driven for success, not mediocrity
Good Morning. This is State Senator Jim Boyle of Gorham. As the owner of a small business, I am aware that my seven employees—and their families—rely on my judgment and depend on the success of my business. This is a responsibility that I take very seriously.
So when I read that only 25 percent of Mainers think the Maine economy is heading in the right direction, I can relate to their worries. But, then, nearly every week, Governor LePage tells us we’re in great shape.
Well, that isn’t an easy question to answer.
Based on the numbers, here’s what we know: Today’s economy has certainly improved since the Great Recession—but we are still lagging far behind the rest of the nation.
It is, however, fair to say that some parts of the economy are moving in the right direction. Cities like Portland, Lewiston, and Bangor, have added jobs.
Older workers are faring well–with unemployment for them well under four percent. But other areas of our economy are still struggling.
And I can tell you that I don’t have to go by poll numbers to know that. Because when I’m out talking with people in my district, this is what I’m hearing: Our younger workers, many of whom are workers with families, are experiencing unemployment rates close to nine percent. Workers in the more rural parts of our state have few opportunities.
And more Mainers are still working harder for less–most having to work two and three part time jobs just to make ends meet. In fact, Maine ranks fifth in the country for highest number of people who have to work multiple jobs because nothing else is available.
And what’s worse, is that it didn’t have to be this way. For example, Governor LePage tanked a $120 million project when he rejected Statoil–an international innovator who was ready to put Maine on the map with a cutting edge legacy industry. An industry that would have created hundreds of jobs and pumped millions of dollars in to our economy. In fact, once Governor LePage pushed them out of Maine, they invested $2.5 billion in the U.K.
Next, Governor LePage withheld voter-approved bonds—stopping hundreds of projects for two whole construction seasons. Thousands of people were without good paying jobs because he decided to play politics with voter-approved bonds.
This is a time of economic recovery in America. Other states, including our New England neighbors are doing better than us. Yet Governor LePage has literally walked away from job creation–leaving job after job on the table. Thousands of them. And because of that, Maine ranks at the bottom of the pack. The rest of the country has recovered 106 percent of lost jobs, but Maine has only recovered 63 percent. By comparison, the New England region has recovered 116 percent—nearly double Maine’s progress.
Maine lags behind most of the rest of the country when it comes to economic growth—ranking 41st in the nation in Gross Domestic Product last year.
How can Governor LePage tell us that all is well with the Maine economy?
While there might be improvements, it is certainly not because of Paul LePage but rather, in spite of him. And to that end, he certainly shouldn’t be bragging about these bottom of the pack numbers.
As a small business owner, I believe that the state of Maine needs to do what business owners like I need to do: create an economic plan that will move us forward toward success. We need a plan that is driven for success, not mediocrity. We shouldn’t be in a race to the bottom; but instead, a race to the top. And, most of all, we need leadership that will not undermine our potential success–but instead build upon our assets like our workforce and competitive advantages.
Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Jim Boyle. Have a great weekend.