Democratic Radio Address by Rep. Matt Moonen (Portland): LePage’s lagging job creation hits younger Mainers hard

Posted on April 5, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Audio link here.

    Rep. Moonen: LePage’s lagging job creation hits younger Mainers hard
    Governor styles self as “turnaround specialist” but fails to deliver

Maine has so many good things going for it, particularly for young people establishing families. Quality of life, engaged communities, vibrant schools and amazing outdoor opportunities – just to name a few. But it’s getting harder for young people to live, work and play in Maine – especially the work part under the administration of Governor Paul LePage.

matt moonenGood morning, I’m Representative Matt Moonen of Portland.

I’m a member of the Legislature’s Youth Caucus. We’re a bipartisan group of lawmakers focused on policies that affect younger Mainers and their futures in our state.

It’s been clear for a while that our economy is not where it should be.

It’s ironic because the governor touts his background as a businessman – a “turnaround specialist.” In his State of the State address, he told the people of Maine, “Having spent my career in business, I know what grows an economy.”

A new report confirms that as Maine’s CEO, the governor has not delivered on job creation. The report provides another troubling insight: Mainers in their prime working years are really hurting under the governor’s watch.

You’ve probably already heard about how Maine is far behind in job creation. We’ve been scraping along the bottom with each new set of employment data that comes out. The latest numbers say we’re currently ranked 49th in the nation. Forth-ninth!

But did you know that younger Mainers are having such a hard time? For this group, employment levels have not improved since the end of the recession.

This job creation problem has a large ripple effect. These are Mainers who are trying to establish themselves and build solid foundations for their families. Without job opportunities how likely is it that they can buy their first homes or invest in their children’s futures? Forget about extra pocket money to boost local economies.
Without opportunity, how can we expect young people to stay in the state or return home? This is an important question, especially as we address the challenges of an increasingly aging population. Top economist Charlie Colgan has warned that this demographic trend would be disastrous for the state’s workforce, competitiveness and economy.

Working-age Mainers – and the entire state – need the governor to step up and deliver on job creation.

Maine has recovered less than half of the jobs lost in the recession. We’re doing the worst in New England, which has recovered 96 percent. The nation, meanwhile, is back up to 93 percent.

If you were a shareholder in a firm led by the governor, what would you think about this performance?

Democrats have put forward solutions to address our workforce and economic needs. Solutions like early childhood education, college affordability and incentives to encourage young Mainers stay in-state after college.

And a jobs bond package from the bipartisan workforce committee would spur job creation by small businesses and invest in areas like the marine economy where Maine has a competitive advantage.

What has our CEO been up to?

He’s given a $1 million no-bid contract to a political ally for shoddy work; lost $20 million for the state’s psychiatric hospital by ignoring federal law; given a failing transportation contractor an extra $1.2 million without a reason; and prompted a federal investigation by interfering in unemployment hearings.

He’s failed on a major part of his job description: working with the Legislature on a supplemental budget. Instead of making a proposal as Maine governors are supposed to, he essentially punted.

This is no way to lead. Young Mainers, their families and their communities deserve more from their CEO.

Thank you for tuning in. This is Representative Matt Moonen of Portland. Have a wonderful weekend.

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Weekly Democratic Address by House Asst Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan): MAINE NEEDS AN EFFECTIVE CEO

Posted on March 7, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

    REP. MCCABE: MAINE NEEDS AN EFFECTIVE CEO
    LePage’s watch marked by mismanagement and crisis

jeff mccabeGovernor Paul LePage tells us he’s a businessman. He describes himself as a turnaround specialist, as someone who’s got the know-how to make good things happen for our state.

But the reality is that Maine has not fared well under his rule.

Good morning, I’m Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan. Thank you for tuning in.

Governor LePage is the chief executive of our state – our CEO, if you will. But I ask you, has he been an effective one?

Maine’s economy has suffered on his watch.

Our state was the worst in the nation when it comes to private sector job growth. More children are living in poverty – the number has grown to one in four Maine children. Families are working harder but making less. And just this week, we learned that Maine lost manufacturing jobs for the third year in a row.

Governor LePage says he knows how to grow an economy. Is this what he meant? Seems to me that this is hardly a record to brag about.

Maine needs real leadership to get its economy moving again. But instead, we’re seeing mismanagement and crisis at every turn.

There’s his $1 million no-bid contract to a political ally – one who didn’t turn in his work in on time and made a huge math error. There’s the federal investigation into his interference with unemployment hearing officers. There’s the document shredding scandal.

And there’s his refusal to work with the Legislature on a state budget – a major part of his job description as chief executive.

And now, Governor LePage is playing political games with our economy again. He is preventing Mainers from working by refusing to release voter-approved bonds.

The governor signed off on bonds that would create jobs and put money into our economy. We’re talking about projects that improve our roads and bridges and help colleges and universities train workers for the jobs of tomorrow.

But then the governor decided to change his mind – even though the money has already started flowing to projects. Shovel-ready projects – like an expansion at Maine Maritime Academy — are at risk. Workers should be putting on their tool belts but now the governor is keeping them waiting in the cold.

What kind of CEO reneges on these kinds of business commitments? What kind of CEO refuses to pay his bills?

I’ll tell you: a bad CEO.

This latest crisis came up after lawmakers from both sides of the aisle came together to keep the state’s funding promise to local communities. This longstanding arrangement gives back a portion of sales and income tax revenue to towns and cities. Revenue sharing helps our local communities pay for services like schools, police and road maintenance while keeping property taxes from spiking.

When he was a mayor, Governor LePage recognized the value of protecting communities and their property taxpayers. But these days, he’s talking out of the other side of his mouth.

The governor claims he’s acting this way because he doesn’t like part of the plan to protect revenue sharing. He’s trying to blame the use of the rainy day fund even though the plan maps out how it would be replenished – and even though he’s used a lot more of it himself in the past.

A few days ago, the governor slammed Democrats for supporting revenue sharing. He seemed surprised to learn than Republicans were part of the overwhelming veto-proof majorities that supported the critical measure to prevent property tax spikes.

It would be kind of funny, if it wasn’t so scary that he doesn’t know what’s going on right upstairs from his office.

Because he knows he lost on revenue sharing, he’s decided to hold bonds hostage.

It defies common sense – and business sense. Maine needs more predictability from its CEO.

Call the governor – your state’s CEO – and tell him to release the bonds so Mainers can get back to work.

Thank you for listening. This is Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan.

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LePage Reneges on $100M Statewide Maine Jobs Bond Contracts, Day 3: MaineDOT Projects in Peril?

Posted on February 24, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Feb. 22—Maine Governor Paul LePage and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant at the Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee session, which was about the future of the National Guard.

Feb. 22—Maine Governor Paul LePage and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant at the Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee session, which was about the future of the National Guard (photo via NGA).

We are giving Governor LePage a pass on the “Day Count” for Saturday and Sunday, as he was down in DC for the NGA winter meetingwell, until yesterday morning at least.

He inexplicably skipped last night’s dinner with President and Mrs. Obama at the White House, as well as multiple meetings today with the President and Vice-President Biden.

Hey, waitaminute… Anyone else remember when LePage pulled out of NGA?

    LePage said he will attend the winter meeting, held in Washington, D.C., because of its sessions with President Barack Obama and cabinet members. But he said he has no use for the other meetings held by the group.

    “I get no value out of those meetings,” he said. “They are too politically correct and everybody is lovey-dovey and no decisions are ever made. There are some tough decisions that need to be made in this country and we need to start making them.”

(If anyone can make sense of his thought processes, oh do please- let the rest of Maine in on the trick…)

Fortunately, the Kennebec Journal helpfully shared this (Governors: ‘ObamaCare here to stay’) for LePage, so he can be up to speed on what he missed and via AP, gave Maine a shout-out:

    …governors from both parties report that a full repeal of the law (ACA) would be complicated at best, if not impossible, as states move forward with implementation and begin covering millions of people – both by expanding Medicaid rolls for lower-income resident or through state or federal exchanges that offer federal subsidies to those who qualify.

    A recent Associated Press analysis of the sign-ups found that six Republican-led states – Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin – were on pace or better than the states had initially projected.

Oh dear.

Onward to Day Three!

———————————————

Last August, Maine Governor Paul LePage recorded a video, urging support for a $100 million transportation bond as a means of “supporting economic development and jobs”.

It was a politically motivated plea sent out directly at the public for a solitary transportation bond to be put on the November ballot. He also called for a special session and once the dust settled on that special session called for by the Governor, there was agreement on a slew of bonds to go before voters.

Four in particular are of interest, as they related directly to bonds for higher education and transportation:

Voters in November passed all four of the above bonds by wide margins and as the Secretary of State’s office “Citizen’s Guide 2013” points out, all passed measures go into effect 30 days after the election results are certified.

Governor Paul LePage and MDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt release 3 year statewide Work Plan in North Augusta.

Governor Paul LePage and MDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt release 3 year statewide Work Plan in North Augusta.

On January 13, Maine media was advised by Maine DOT press secretary Ted Talbot that there would be a press conference rolling out an ambitious statewide transportation plan the following day. Inside a North Augusta MaineDOT garage, Governor Paul LePage, Senator Ron Collins (R-York), MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt and others gathered as LePage and Bernhardt released MDOT’s statewide 3 year, $2B work plan:

    The Maine DOT’s “Three Year Work Plan” will use $100 million in state transportation bonds – approved last November by voters – and federal highway funds to pay for more than 1,600 projects from now until 2016 in all 16 of the state’s counties.

    In 2014, a total of 425 projects are scheduled at a cost of $455 million.

    “The work plan represents more than a listing of projects,” LePage said during a news conference in Augusta. “Our transportation infrastructure is the backbone that delivers economic opportunities and good-paying jobs to Maine. That’s why I will continue to support the Maine DOT’s innovative efforts to upgrade our transportation system and to keep stretching that buck.”

The governor commented that this was a non-partisan effort:

    “The bond package was approved by about 70 percent of the voters in Maine. So it was a non-partisan effort,” LePage said. “Everybody worked together on it.”

As there was quite a bit of ongoing bickering over the budget, revenue sharing, the infamous Alexander Report and Medicaid expansion a few miles away at the State House, media questioned the Governor after the presentation about those topics instead of the MDOT work plan.

LePage minced no words as he attacked Democratic lawmakers:

    “The boogey man in the room…”

    “It’s just the opposite of what the opponents say. Let me tell you something… I hear, Mark Eves says… (unintelligible) “tea party guy”… it takes one to know one. When I was a Democrat… I was a Democrat- until- I learned how to count. You see that? I learned to count; I became a Republican. Because they’re giving you smoke and mirrors. They gave us smoke and mirrors in 2002 and they’re doing it again today.

    Let me tell you something else that you don’t… Democrats… there’s going to be several nursing homes closing, because they’re not covered. And we have the waiting list, that’s not covered. So all of these things that they … Democrats say are gonna happen are wrong. They’re simply wrong.”

… and that he has “no power” with this legislature, among other claims.

    “I have no power when it comes to this legislature. They do what they damn well please.”

So at no time in January did the Governor publicly threaten to renege on the transportation bond. In fact, on the following day (January 15), his weekly address stressed that “Maine has an obligation to help our most vulnerable and pay its bills”.

At the time of the work plan roll out, Associated General Contractors of Maine executive director Matt Marks was quoted by MPBN:

    The work will provide badly needed jobs in Maine’s construction sector, where as recently as early last year, says Matt Marks, unemployment topped 26 percent. Marks is executive director of Associated General Contractors of Maine.

    “Last year, I worried about the talented constructors who would leave Maine for jobs in other states,”
    he said. But Marks says unemployment among his membership has now dropped to 16 percent, a downward trend he expects will continue, as the 2014 transportation projects get under way this spring.

    The Transportation Department says it’s confident it will secure the state and federal funds it will need to complete the more than 1,000 projects scheduled for 2015 and 2016.

Here is the list of contracts awarded so far, updated as late as February 14. It will be interesting to see how they react to news of the Governor’s refusal to honor the state’s signed contracts and whether the work already scheduled will be able to continue.

——————–

*RELATED:

1. BREAKING: Governor LePage Reneges on $100M Jobs Bonds; Bounces $59M State of Maine Check
2. LePage Reneges on $100M Statewide Maine Jobs Bond Contracts, Day 2
3. (Aug 2013 Review) Governor LePage (Video): Support of the Transportation Bond Supports Economic Stability and Jobs

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LePage Reneges on $100M Statewide Maine Jobs Bond Contracts, Day 2

Posted on February 21, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

(Following up on last night’s news: “BREAKING: Governor LePage Reneges On $100M Jobs Bonds; Bounces $59M State Of Maine Check”)

To review, here is the email shared last night:

lepage sots angry self

Neria,
I will not approve going to market until there is $60 MM in the Rainy Day Fund. I will not subject the state to further credit reduction. In the past the Treasurer would keep the Governor updated on cash expenditures, you have chosen not to.

Governor Paul R. LePage

A reminder: LePage accused Douglass last year in June of holding up issuance of the bonds, which was proven false and refused to sign them until the hospital debt was paid. On July 3, the governor shifted the blame for the bond issuance delay onto Democrats and in August, he applauded the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee for approving the bonds package that included $35M to higher education improvements such as Maine Maritime Academy in Castine and Maine Community College System.

In September, Maine Maritime Academy first broke ground on the ABS Center for Engineering, Science and Research- the first classroom facility built on campus in thirty years. From a press release:

“Enrollment at MMA has expanded from 650 to 950 full-time students over the last 15 years. During that time, there has been little expansion of educational facilities on our campus,” said Dr. William J. Brennan, President of Maine Maritime Academy. “The new facility is an investment in our students, in the technology necessary for the specialized education we provide, and in the industry-relevant research our faculty and students are immersed in here on campus.”

The new building will be a hub for joint student/faculty research projects, including low-emissions biofuels development and testing, wind turbine design, tidal and wave hydrokinetic devices, ocean studies research, and many other topics.

In January, construction began on the site:

mma castine abs

Maine Maritime Academy has begun construction of the first academic facility to be built on the college campus in 30 years: the ABS Center for Engineering, Science and Research. The construction process is estimated to be complete in 12 months, with occupancy planned for January, 2015. When complete, the 3-story, 30,000-square-foot building will provide state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratories, classrooms, student study spaces, faculty offices and workrooms in the heart of the campus.

In November, Maine voters approved $4.5 million in state funding to support the public-private partnership to build a new facility. The remainder of the funding needed to accomplish the estimated $14 million project is being raised through generous gifts, pledges and challenge grants from alumni, friends of the college, businesses and foundations.

“With the successful passage of the bond issue and ongoing fundraising efforts we are nearing our funding goals for the project,” said Maine Maritime Academy President, Dr. William J. Brennan. “We are also fortunate to have an experienced construction team from Nickerson & O’Day who are determined, even with the extreme weather since December, to stay on schedule.”

“We are very happy to have a chance to work with Maine Maritime Academy again,” said Karl Ward, President of Nickerson & O’Day, citing student housing construction and renovation projects the company has completed on campus over the past 20 years. “We’re also excited to be a part of advancing the college’s work in engineering and research.”

The new building will be home to renewable energy and ocean energy labs, as well as the new Marine Engine Testing and Emissions Laboratory (METEL), for which the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the Academy $1.4 million to focus on research and development of emissions reductions technologies and engine efficiency technologies for marine and related power plants.

neria_headshot_web_smallEarlier today Maine Treasurer Neria R. Douglass shared a timeline of over 40 pages of compiled communications in a timeline from May of last year to present with the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, detailing the emails between her department, the Governor’s office, and information on the various projects already in process.

When contacted about the news of LePage’s refusal to issue the jobs bonds, Dr. William J. Brennan, President of Maine Maritime Academy, had the following reaction:

“We are not aware that this would affect the bond funding that was approved for Maine Maritime Academy. The State has given us the green light to begin construction on the ABS Center, and the project is underway.”

Bangor Daily News reports that there has been no response yet from the governor’s office:

LePage has said previously said that he would withhold up to $100 million in voter-approved bonds because of a bill passed recently by the Legislature that restores $40 million in revenue sharing to Maine towns and cities that was cut as part of the two-year budget passed by the Legislature last year. LePage proposed last year in his biennial budget bill to cut revenue sharing completely for two years, but the Legislature restored some of that funding over LePage’s objections.

Lawmakers also agreed to seek alternative revenue sources to restore the $40 million revenue-sharing cut in the budget. A task force could not agree on those measures, so Democrats on the budget-writing Appropriations Committee put forth an alternative plan.

That revenue-sharing bill, LD 1762, would take $21 million from the rainy day fund, which currently has about $60 million in it, as well as $4 million from a fund designed to accumulate budget surplus for the purpose of eventually reducing the state’s income tax and $15 million from surging unappropriated revenues. The bill, which had strong bipartisan support in the Legislature, is on LePage’s desk awaiting action.

Today Governor LePage issued a press release through the Maine Department of Labor, which read in part:

Revenue Forecast Flat for FY 2014 and 2015
Budget Balancing Challenges Remain

The Maine Revenue Forecasting Committee (RFC) met today to discuss the spring economic forecast due to the Governor and Legislature no later than March 1, 2014.

The RFC will formally submit its report next week; however, at the meeting today the committee publicly stated that General Fund revenue forecast would remain virtually unchanged since their last update in November 2013.


“Democrats on the Appropriations Committee were unwilling to wait on the Revenue Forecasting Committee’s forecast before casting their votes to raid the State’s limited rainy day reserve fund,”
said Governor Paul R. LePage. “They will now be forced with making tough choices to ensure the State replenishes the reserves to a balance of at least $60 million to try and avoid a bond rating downgrade this spring.”

Which is to say, LePage refuses to budge one iota.

Democrats were quick to point out to media that LePage and the 125th Legislature drew down from the state’s budget stabilization account themselves to cover budget shortfalls created by tax cuts to the rich:

Key Points:

· In 2011, the LePage administration and the Republican-led legislature drew down $27 million from the account to balance its budget, which included a $400 million income tax cut that primarily benefited the wealthy.

· Under the Democratic proposal, LD 1762, the budget stabilization account would simply return to similar levels as in 2012. The proposal temporarily draws down $21 million from the state’s budget stabilization fund often referred to as the “rainy day fund.” It later directs any year-end surplus to replenish the account.

· Democrats drew down funds from the state’s budget stabilization fund to ensure that the State could keep our commitment to Maine towns to help keep property taxes from spiking. The bipartisan bill to blunt municipal revenue sharing cuts prevented a 79 percent cut in the state’s obligation to our communities.

rainy day

(This story is still unfolding and will be updated as necessary.)

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