Well, we might as well set the bar high, don’t you think? Let’s be optimistic and hope for the best. Here’s what I’d like to see from our next governor and Legislature.
Cooperation and camaraderie. It’s time for all of you to get along. Organize regular gatherings that allow legislators and the governor to get to know each other. It’s hard to be mad at your friends, even when you disagree about an issue. Go bowling, skiing, golfing, hunting, fishing — do things together. Hang out at the Liberal Cup after session, walk up to Amato’s for those award-winning Italian sandwiches for lunch, share rides to the State House. Set a goal of getting to know all the others who serve with you. You can do this. You are going to be in Augusta for six long months.
Focus on service. Yes, you are there to serve us. That requires a special sensitivity to our hopes and dreams for our state and ourselves. Please put us first.
Make no one an enemy. The legislator who opposes your bill today might be the legislator who supports your next bill. Understand that compromise is almost always necessary to advance an issue. Be happy if you get half of what you want.
Give up on partisanship. We don’t really care if you are a Democrat, Republican or independent. You are not there to win something for your political party. And ugly, partisan attacks make us dislike all of you and lose faith in our system of government.
Think big. I know that the devil is in the details of budgets and legislative bills, but we need big thinkers and big accomplishments. We are desperate for them. Here are a few suggestions.
Make Maine energy independent. We’ve got the wind, water, and wood to do that — and more sun than you might think. We can sharply reduce the cost of energy for ourselves, and sell energy to others, if we pull together on this and make it a priority. Also, inspire us to be more energy efficient in our homes, our vehicles and our lives. We can do it!
Do what you can to assure that every Mainer has good affordable health care. I won’t suggest how to do it. Just do it!
Lead the world in addressing climate change. Maine is particularly susceptible to the warming climate, particularly the wild critters who live here. We’re already suffering from it in many ways, including the spread of infectious ticks.
Understand that our economy is driven by risk-taking entrepreneurs and create a business and tax environment that attracts them to Maine and encourages those who are already here. Start by reading the Oct. 6 issue of Mainebiz, featuring stories about 10 amazing people who are shaping the future of Maine’s economy. We need more of them.
Read all the reports and recommendations on economic and other issues that have been presented in the last decade — and start implementing the recommendations. We don’t need more studies or more recommendations. We need action.
Pay attention to our infrastructure, from roads to the Internet. We’ve fallen behind, failed to maintain, refused to invest. Time to fix this.
Take better care of the things that make Maine the state we cherish, including the wild critters, farms, forests, rivers, lakes, ponds, ocean and open spaces. My own interests demand much better management of our fisheries and wildlife, particularly those that are native to Maine.
Become more efficient and effective. Reduce your time in Augusta. Focus on the important stuff.
Recognize that many great people work for the state of Maine, and be sure to enhance and support their work, and properly reward them for it.
Invest in our children and grandchildren — and those who teach them. We all know that early childhood is critical. Focus on that. We also know that we can’t continue to saddle our children with monstrous college debts. Figure out how to help them avoid that.
Respect and support local government, understanding their (our) needs, sharing state revenue with them and strengthening the now-torn bond between the state and our cities and towns. Work together.
Fix our terribly mixed-up, unbalanced tax system, to bring the sales, income and property taxes more in line. Programs such as circuit breaker and homestead exemption, which the Legislature cut last year, must be restored and expanded.
As you arrive in Augusta, please be aware that the ugly, partisan, disgraceful campaigns to which we have been subjected have left us with a poor opinion of all of you. You’ve got some work to do to repair that damage. I don’t know if you will do it, but I know you can do it.