As a shameless shill for liberal causes, it’s no surprise that Cynthia Dill points the finger elsewhere for the state of the Maine economy. Her April 17 column, “Maine’s report card will make you see red,” castigates me for our state’s poor economic performance, but she neglects to mention the real obstacle to growth and prosperity: the Legislature’s socialist ideology.

Forty years of a Democratic stranglehold on Augusta transformed Maine from a society of rugged individualists into a highly taxed, anti-business state in which liberals were proud to perpetuate poverty through an out-of-control welfare system. It won’t be changed overnight – or even six years – until and unless the Maine people demand it and send legislators to Augusta who will work on their behalf, not cower to special interests and welfare activists.

It’s easy for Dill and other rich liberals in southern Maine to complain righteously about poverty. It may make for great cocktail party banter and assuage liberal guilt, but let’s get real. Limousine liberals and legislators from wealthy communities in southern Maine don’t have to deal with poverty. Severely underemployed Mainers in Calais and Machias and The County have to live with it every day.

Yet Dill and other liberal elitists are the first to block mining in Aroostook County, which would provide jobs that pay between $60,000 and $90,000 a year. They champion solar power, which would raise rates on rural Mainers and make a few wealthy investors rich, all the while blocking clean and inexpensive hydroelectric power that would entice big, energy-intensive companies to come here and bring good-paying jobs with them.

Dill complains about income growth, but what gives her and her rich southern Maine cronies the right to deny Mainers good jobs? If she wants to blame someone for Maine’s stagnant economy, poor educational performance and job losses, she should be pointing her finger at her liberal brethren.

Democrats oppose reducing or eliminating the income tax, which would be a significant pay raise for all working Mainers. Instead, they are pushing for a job-crushing increase in the minimum wage, which will result in higher prices for consumers and unemployment for low-skilled workers.

Dill, southern Maine elitists and out-of-state liberals pat themselves on the back for celebrating expensive and inefficient wind and solar power, trying to force a national park on northern Mainers who don’t want it, taking millions of acres of land off the tax rolls in the name of conservation and working to prevent responsible harvesting of our working forests.

Protecting the environment is a laudable mission; doing it at the expense of human activity and good jobs is an abomination. We can balance good stewardship of the environment with allowing economic activity that provides the kind of good-paying jobs that can lift Mainers out of poverty. Dill and anti-business activists like the Natural Resources Council of Maine always say “yes” to protecting the environment, but “no” to creating jobs. Then they complain about poverty and stagnant economic growth. Go figure.

As for Dill’s complaints about education, the Maine Education Association exists solely to extort dues from teachers’ paychecks so they can run political campaigns to get more liberals elected to the Legislature. Union bosses at MEA fiercely resist any kind of education reform, eagerly bloat school budgets with twice the administrative costs as the national average and do absolutely nothing to support teachers or students. Until Democrats in Augusta stop cowering to the MEA, don’t expect school performance to improve.

Dill also whines about health care costs. She needs to call the White House, not the Blaine House; Obamacare is the driving force behind skyrocketing health care costs.

Road repair and maintenance? Dill’s liberal colleagues in the State House regularly swept money from the highway fund to pay for Maine’s runaway welfare system.

Our administration halted the budget-busting growth of Medicaid and has created a 10-year work plan for road and bridge work, but we need more resources.

Dill should tell her liberal legislator friends to get their priorities straight. Instead of constantly pushing for Medicaid expansion and another $750 million debt to Maine’s hospitals, they should be fighting for more money to improve Maine’s infrastructure.

It’s easy for Dill and other liberals to blame the governor – much easier than their taking responsibility for their bad public policy that has held Maine back for decades and crushed job opportunities for Maine families.

She says, “It the economy, stupid,” but she is wrong.

It’s liberals impaling good public policy with their rigid socialist ideology. Dill and her liberal colleagues must stop sabotaging our economy and enact good public policy that benefits not her wealthy friends and neighbors, but all of the Maine people.

Paul R. LePage is the governor of Maine.

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