It is simply up to us to make that answer a “Yes!”.
Take a look at the turnaround made by North Dakota. A state with a population of just 600,000 when it hit the bottom. As well it was a state plagued with economic failure and dying communities. Sound familiar?
Here are some basic starter points to kick off our new year on the right path to Yes!
- Support Legislators in approving the funding for the proposed study of the privately funded East West Highway. This study is required by private investors and is critical in validating the support of the Maine people. This is step one for Maine’s turnaround in 2012.
- Push your Legislators to support changes at the PUC (Public Utilities Commission) to allow Bangor Hydro and CMP to fund the investment in heat pumps for our homes. With this change, the utilities can be allowed to loan you the money for the investment, several thousand on average, and you can repay it through your utility bill. The outcome is a huge reduction in oil costs, a modest increase in your utility bills to repay the loan and for additional electricity used, comined to yield a a huge net savings to your household overall. It is green both for the environment and your wallets and you get air conditioning in the summer if you want to use it!
- Support efforts toward cheaper electricity partnerships with Eastern Canada or other states. We must bring cheaper electricity. The future of Maine jobs and private economic investment depends upon it.
- Believe in Maine’s incredible resource base and put it to good use. We are resource rich and we must begin to put that asset to work for us. We can do this through agriculture with expanded farming and through energy production.
- Bangor is a perfect potential hub for research and development (R&D) in the medical, energy and agriculture sectors. We can attract significant R&D business to Bangor and turn the city/area into an R&D hub. The benefits of Bangor over the 128 region near Boston are significant to those in that field. We just need to take steps to showing them we are interested! We can do this through tax repayment programs (allow loans to be repaid with local and state taxes) and a facility for construction loans to these entities and others seeking to set up or expand in Maine.
- Curtail the Welfare programs. Don’t kill them as they are critical and necessary components to our society at this point. But stop growing them. Give the economy a chance to grow around them and the problem of funding goes away. Simply increase qualification requirements, provide serious oversight, set time limits and place a renewed focus on self reliance and independence through mandatory education/counseling for anyone receiving the programs. We can streamline DHHS as it is today and convert it into a national model for ‘socioeconomic turnaround’. We can do it. Maine people do want to find their independence and carry on their heritage of a fierce work ethic which leads to prosperity – I am sure of that!
- Develop Searsport as a true port of opportunity – it can become a feeder point to incredible opportunity for eastern, central and northern Maine. The opportunity is real.
- Work with Texas Instruments (TI) to ensure they keep the Fairchild Semiconductor jobs in Maine. Losing another 900+ jobs in that region will hurt us all in ways we don’t want to think about today. Use the problem and concern as a platform for our economic development leaders at the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to reach out proactively to TI and not only save jobs but look to create more.
We must accept the outcome and results of our last 40 years of government policies and prevailing economic plans. For many reasons, many of which are not political, we simply find ourselves at a turning point today in our economic and social history.
We must look forward and see the abundance of opportunity at our fingertips. Maine is envied by those who know it as a ‘great place to live’ and is an unknown opportunity to many others, able to offer a great balance between social and economic goals.
If Maine can focus on creating a vibrant private industry we will win all battles we face today:
- faithfully move to reduce the overhang of bigger government which pushes our taxes higher and paints us as a Welfare state. This means doing some cost cutting and restructuring across the board. Set the stage for lowering taxes and thus attracting business investment. The state will benefit far more through growth in the tax base than through growth of taxes on a shrinking base – that has been proven and is happening as we speak
- refocus our DECD on several key goals and not a myriad of unachievable outcomes – sounds like “LEAN” principals to me – and guess what they work! Task them to sell our new programs and make them accountable for the outcome of their efforts.
- for example, as stated earlier we create two key programs for attracting business investment – offer payment in lieu of Maine tax programs and provide a favorable construction loan pool for businesses willing to make the investments in property, plant and equipment.
Maine can turnaround. As our population ages rapidly in this state we must move now to turn the economic tide or we’ll face costs far beyond our ability to deliver – no matter how high you push taxes…