Radio Address: Alfond says Mainers deserve a government that works for them

Posted: August 19, 2016 | Senator Alfond, Weekly Radio Address

Mainers are tired of dysfunction and partisan boxing matches in Augusta. They deserve a state government that works.

Hi. This is Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond, from Portland.

As my eight years in the Legislature come to a close, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what Mainers should expect from their government.

Elected officials and the two political parties have different ideas about what role government should play in helping our state thrive. That’s an important debate to have.

But I’m afraid that over the past 30 years or so, Republicans have pushed the conversation so far to the right that they’re no longer debating what government’s role should be. They’re arguing government has no role to play at all.

Maine is at a crossroads. The economic recovery that has lifted our nation from the depths of recession has barely registered for many Maine families.

Our infrastructure lags further behind every year, whether it’s our roads and bridges, our schools, or our limited connections to high-speed Internet.

Our government can either be a partner with our businesses and our communities, or we can sit on the sidelines, crippled by a political ideology that sees no need to get involved as our economy stagnates and Mainers struggle.

Now, I’m not naive. I know that when I stand up to say that government can be a force for good, the critics will come out of the woodwork to hurl tired, old insults my way.

So let me be clear: Nobody thinks the state should put red tape in the way of entrepreneurs, or stick its nose where it doesn’t belong. But as a Democrat, I believe government can be and should be a partner to help make Maine the best it can be.

Government can be a mechanism for all of us to come together to accomplish more than any of us could achieve alone.

It’s how we ensure all Maine children receive the education they need to succeed and thrive.

It’s how we pool our resources to make sure our infrastructure can meet the needs of the private sector — not just for the businesses we have today, but the ones we want to attract for the future.

It’s how we enforce sensible consumer and environmental protections, so that Maine’s famous quality of life doesn’t fall victim to the unscrupulous con artists who would pollute our state or swindle our seniors just to make a quick buck.

There’s plenty of opportunity for healthy, vigorous debate. We should welcome it.

But there’s no room for the kind of outright sabotage of our public institutions that we have seen in Augusta.

This cynical behavior is excused as “tough action.” In reality, it’s grandstanding. It’s mostly destructive.  It’s the politics of the campaign trail, when what’s needed is statesmanship.

Mainers deserve a government that works for them — not one hamstrung by the very politicians elected to do the people’s work.

This is Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond. Thanks for listening.