Gov. Paul LePage recently complained that term limits enabled too many “young people with firm agendas” to serve in the Legislature, supposedly dragging down the quality of the bills that get passed.
As one of those young people to whom he referred, I would respond that the governor ought to be grateful that any young people have stayed in Maine at all, given how little he has done to create jobs or other opportunities for success.
In fact, the governor has mismanaged Maine’s economy so badly that a report from the Maine Center for Economic Policy ranked Maine next-to-last in total job growth since 2011 and revealed that the employment rate of 25- to 54-year-olds has not increased at all since the recession ended.
That same report showed that our state has recovered less than half the jobs caused by the recession, while the rest of New England has recovered almost all of them.
While Democrats have been working hard on issues critical to young people, issues such as early childhood education, affordable health care, youth entrepreneurship and, most importantly, college affordability, we have not seen any action from the governor, only more mismanagement.
So, what does the governor’s mismanagement look like up close?
One example is LePage’s recent behavior regarding a set of bonds that Mainers voted for by large margins. The $150 million bond package for infrastructure, major construction projects, renovation efforts in our higher education institutions and National Guard armories was supported by both parties and even the governor.
Then suddenly, for no reason that passes the straight-face test, the governor froze all bonds and held them hostage for several weeks, delivering his usual “my way or the highway” ultimatum.
What kind of leader gambles with the quality and safety of Maine’s roads and bridges, not to mention the livelihoods of construction workers and contractors?
LePage prides himself on trying to run Maine’s government like a business. He even touted himself as a turnaround specialist who could get Maine fixed up and moving forward. But if LePage were the CEO of Maine Inc., shareholders would have viewed his erratic actions as highly irresponsible and immediately voted to send him packing.
No CEO could pride himself on the record that the governor has as the leader of our state. Median income has fallen by $1,500, manufacturing continues to decline for the third consecutive year, and a quarter of all Maine children now live in poverty.
LePage has spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a widely discredited report, refused to fulfill his duty in writing a supplemental budget, paid a failed ride broker millions of dollars, undercut the budgets of Maine’s cities and towns, and meddled with unemployment hearings.
The governor’s erratic behavior, his use of sledgehammer tactics when he does not get his way, and his preference for political games over actual governing is only making it harder to jumpstart a Maine economy that is just barely inching along.
If we really want to keep young people here, create jobs and jumpstart growth, we need to move Maine forward. But we cannot do that if we have a CEO who mismanages our finances, misses the opportunities right in front of his face and refuses to seize common ground because he sees all compromise as weakness.
Maine deserves a better chief executive officer. It’s time for Maine’s shareholders to demand change.
Rep. Matthea Daughtry, D-Brunswick, is serving her first term in the Legislature and represents part of Brunswick. She is a member of the Education Committee and co-chairs the Youth Caucus.