Weekly Radio Address: GOVERNOR IS MISSING OPPORTUNITIES TO GET PEOPLE BACK TO WORK
Maine’s economy depends on the private sector, nonprofits and government all working together
Good Morning. This is Assistant Democratic Leader, Senator Justin Alfond of Portland.
For nearly three years, our country and state have struggled to climb out of a stagnant economy. And, our Governor has told us that one of his priorities is the economy. And, to that end, the Governor is currently holding job workshops across the state.
While a “jobs workshop” makes for a good headline, the Governor is missing all the opportunities to actually get Maine people back to work. In this instance, the Governor has excluded some key job creators from the conversation.
Nonprofits account for 14% of Maine’s work force. And, the nonprofit sector has actually shown growth in the current recession. So why then, is the Governor excluding them from the conversation.
Nonprofits play a vital role in creating jobs, spurring investment, and strengthening Maine’s economy. Just this week, we learned that CEI—a nonprofit—is investing $5.5 million to help finance job creation efforts in rural Maine. $5.5 million in job creation…in rural Maine. Even better, with this investment, CEI will leverage upwards of $40 million in additional public-private investment. In 2011 alone, CEI’s financed nearly 70 businesses statewide—which in turn created or retained nearly 1,400 jobs throughout Maine.
So why then doesn’t CEI have a seat at Governor LePage’s job creation table? And why is he refusing to explore all options for creating jobs?
A shortlist of successful non-profits include, Jackson Lab—a nonprofit with more than 1,400 employees, and recently received more than $33 million in a national grant; Maine Medical Center which employs nearly 6,500 people and continues to rank among Maine’s top employers, and Opportunity Alliance with more than 450 employees and revenues close to $35 million.
Knowing these facts, I’m unsure what prevents Governor LePage from including nonprofits—along with the private sector—in the conversation about job growth and job creation. With so many people out of work why wouldn’t you include those who offer real solutions? What a missed opportunity!
The Governor continued his out of touch approach when he bashed Maine’s unemployed to a group of business owners. As reported in the Bangor Daily News, Governor LePage actually blamed unemployed workers for not working. He said the unemployed might be getting paid too much to not work. How can he be so completely out of touch with the struggles and realities of Maine people? The Governor’s insults to the very people he’s trying to help, does not make sense.
This rhetoric will not create one job. It will not retrain one worker. It will not generate one dollar. And it will not move Maine forward. Simply, it’s divisive and a missed opportunity to get Mainers back to work.
And so there’s a pattern of the Governor parading through the state choosing winners and creating losers.
Rather than being inclusive, he is exclusive.
Rather than problem-solving with all, he is blaming, accusatory, and punitive.
In a few months, the Legislature will reconvene and the Governor will be faced with a choice. He can continue to miss opportunities, scapegoating Maine workers, and go it alone—or, he can work with the Legislature to find solutions. Many of us come from the private sector and have a wealth of experience working with our state’s small and large businesses. And, instead of teaming up with us, the Governor walks alone. The Governor’s “I-can-do-it-myself” attitude is unsustainable. There are many issues that Democrats and Republicans disagree on, but getting Mainers back to work is not one of them. If we all work together to create jobs we can get Maine back on track.
Maine’s economy depends on the private sector, nonprofits and government all working together, filling gaps, and leveraging opportunities.
Collaborating and prioritizing make sense. Democrats will remain focused. And, through strategic investments and considering options—regardless of ideology—Democrats will continue working for all Maine people. I hope we can count on our colleagues across the aisle to do the same.
This is State Senator Justin Alfond. Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.