That Pesky Data


On Thursday, the New England Economic Partnership , a nonprofit organization that issues economic forecasts twice a year, released its new forecast for the New England States.
The report addresses Maine specifically:” –Maine: While job growth is expected in Maine in 2006, the pace will be much slower than economists had forecast previously. Employment levels that the state had been forecast to reach this year will not be realized until 2009. Job growth through 2010 is forecast at an average 0.7 percent per year, slowest in New England. In recent years, job gains in sectors other than manufacturing had offset manufacturing job losses, but that trend has ended. And revisions to employment data now show that job growth that had been expected last year in Maine did not occur, and figures for 2004 have been revised downward.”
The Associated Press examined the reports of the six New England States, and found that once again, Maine is among the weakest.
What does this mean for Maine?

I think that this means two things:
1. The policies of the past 30-40 years have not been working.
2. We need to change direction and implement more pro-growth policies that will jum-start the Maine economy.
1. The policies of the last 30-40 years have not been working
It’s that simple. Maine’s median income is in the lowest third in the nation, our state and local tax burden has been the highest for the past 12 years, our bond rating was downgraded by all three bond agencies last year, we have the oldest median age and the second lowest birth rate, and our population is stagnant – growing at less than 1% annually (less than 10,000 each year). To put that into perspective, it is reported that over 1,000 people are moving to Florida every day!
Private sector job growth is approximately .7% since January of 2003, while public sector job growth is 1.7% in that same period. Our school age population is declining, but we are spending tens of millions more on fewer students. And, we have the highest percent of our population under the age of 65 on the Medicaid system – the highest percentage in the nation.
Are there spots of hope? Sure, but those glimpses are few and far between. The tax and spend policies that were promised to bring prosperity have failed the Maine people.
2. We need to change direction and implement more pro-growth policies that will jum-start the Maine economy.
That is pretty evident, right? Let’s hope so.
In order to create higher-paying jobs, Maine needs to make its business climate attractive. That means getting government out of the way of the free markets. It means lowering the cost of health insurance so that more people can afford it, and don’t need government assistance programs. It means lowering the tax rates by controlling spending and thus requiring less taxpayer dollars. It means eliminating costly mandates and redundant and burdensome reulations and licensing. It means focusing our elected officials on the tough job of prioritizing a finite amount of tax revenues to provide the most effective and efficient government at all levels. Everything cannot be a priority.
Let’s take advantage of this unique opportunity in time and allow Mainers to retake control of their government through a responsible, moderate, and proven Taxpayer Bill of Rights. By providing certainty and responsible government growth on an annual basis, we have an opportunity to begin to change the course of our ship of state – becoming competitive for business, jobs, and stronger and healthier communities.
Those on the other side don’t want to talk about that pesky data. It’s a nuisance and it hampers their efforts to make yet another plea for another fee, tax, or bond. Yet the data doesn’t lie, and its not going away.
Our challenge is to turn that data to a help, rather than a hindrance, when trying to lure jobs and people to Maine. Let’s start winning some of these economic rankings.