I was disappointed but not surprised listening to Gov. Paul LePage’s State of the State message. The governor wants to compete with South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana to bring in businesses to create jobs and end a cycle of welfare.
First, those four states have poverty rates of 15 percent, 16.9 percent, 14.3 percent and 18.6 percent, respectively, while Maine stands at 12 percent. I would not want to beat them to the bottom.
Secondly, LePage wants to mimic these states by having right-to-work zones. This will mean low-wage jobs that will create more corporate welfare, first through tax breaks and taxpayer-funded financing and then taxpayers will subsidize the low wages with assistance to these low-income workers.
Rather than enticing relocation by bottom-feeding companies that extort concessions from states, why not offer financing to local, home-grown businesses? LePage himself said that our unemployment problems would be solved if each small business hired one more employee.
Next, to address the drug epidemic, the governor plans to hire more agents and judges to incarcerate, without mention of rehabilitation. The cost of incarceration is huge and, as we know, does not act as a deterrent. I would hope that those who made a bad choice and developed an addiction will be offered rehabilitation instead of incarceration, thus saving taxpayers money and helping those addicted return to a better life.
Jim Betts, Winthrop