A State of Opportunity
An optimistic and realistic plan to lead Maine forward in jobs, health and prosperity.
Part One: What Happened to Maine?
Introduction: Not Right...Not Left…Forward!
- Maine is a great place to live but it's a hard place to make a living.
- Many of our challenges are the result of bad choices and failed policies.
- Mainers want leaders to focus on solutions, not on scoring political points.
- Maine needs a new vision, a new plan and a new strategy that inspires us to invest in our competitive advantages and maximizes opportunity.
Chapter 1: A Double Whammy: The Dimensions of Our Challenge
- A double whammy: low incomes and high expenses.
- We have lagged our New England neighbors and the rest of the United States in both job creation and income.
- Our small population struggles to generate sufficient revenue to maintain the physical and social infrastructure of our state.
- The good news: we can fix it. Our foremost challenge is making and following a plan to invest in Maine's future, to lower our costs of living, to increase economic activity, jobs and incomes, and to broaden opportunity.
Chapter 2: The North Carolina Example
- The North Carolina example demonstrates that changing a state's direction begins with dialogue, vision and the development of a workable plan. Despite a decade of stagnation and challenges of a magnitude not seen since the Great Depression, there has been no articulation by the State's leaders of an economic development strategy that reflects Maine's new realities.
- Progress is possible when people come together to confront the challenges that face them. The critical factors in North Carolina's transformation were conscious decisions by leaders in the state to invest in their state's competitive advantages and to stick to a long-term plan.
Chapter 3: The Lesson of The Lost Decade: Maine Needs a Vision and a Plan
- Maine is right back where we were a decade ago. Employment, median wages and incomes are virtually unchanged through six legislatures and three terms of two governors from two different parties.
- A growing economy doesn’t happen by accident. Our greatest failing has been the failure of our state’s leaders to craft a plan for Maine – all of Maine.
- The right tests of good governance: Are Maine citizens better off? Do our kids have a future in Maine? Is Maine a place of opportunity?
- Maine can be the economic turnaround story of this generation.
Part Two: A Great Place to Live...and to Make a Living
Chapter 4: Healthier, Smarter, Stronger and Younger
- Maine can be a good place to live and a place to make a good living.
- The choices we make and the policies we pursue can dramatically increase opportunity for Mainers if we confront our most serious challenges head on.
- Let’s set some ambitious goals for 2020: the healthiest state in the nation; educational proficiency; double the visitors; twice the agricultural land; and more births than deaths.
Chapter 5: Healthier: Better Healthcare at Lower Cost
- Reforming the way we manage health care challenges can save money and improve our quality of life.
- We need to apply traditional Maine concepts of value and innovation to our healthcare system. Rather than fighting the new federal health care law, Maine should be actively managing its implementation in a way that works best for Maine.
- Providing access to essential health care for every Maine citizen and rewarding healthy behaviors will make Maine more competitive as a place to live and work.
Chapter 6: Smarter Investments: Making Maine Stronger
- The states in America with the best education systems often have the strongest economies.
- Maine’s costs per pupil are considerably higher than the national average. We should insist on reforms designed around the needs of students, their families and their communities.
- We should re-examine the way we fund public education in Maine.
- We should extend the school year and shine a spotlight on teacher success.
- The costs of post-secondary education in Maine are too high and the success rates are too low. One governing body and central administration for our community colleges and four-year university campuses would mean closer collaboration, better allocation of precious resources and greater efficiency.
Chapter 7: Smarter Government: Wise and Prudent, Fair and Efficient
- Maine people deserve a government that is responsive, efficient and creative.
- We can replace sticks with carrots. Targeted incentives can help identify ways to combine local services at real savings for taxpayers.
- A Cleanup Commission should review all state programs and agencies and ask the legislature for an up or down vote on ways to make state government more innovative, more efficient and less costly.
- An Office of The Grim Repealer should review rules and regulations to help the governor and the legislature get rid of those that are unnecessary, counter-productive, inefficient and ineffective.
- Maine’s outmoded, inefficient, highly regressive and unfair tax structure stands in the way of sustained economic growth, more jobs and shared prosperity. It needs to be fixed and revamped so that it raises the money government needs in ways that are fair and smart.
Chapter 8: Stronger Economy: Investing in Maine’s Competitive Advantages
- No state can match our extraordinary combination of natural resources, location and quality of life.
- We should invest in a serious and sustained way in the development of an umbrella Maine brand that can be an enduring economic driver even in challenging economic times.
- A focused effort to leverage Maine’s competitive advantages can generate jobs and increase incomes. Our future growth will be driven by agriculture, by tourism and by the arts, manufacturing and research sectors of the creative economy.
- Wise decisions about capital investments – choosing among compelling needs for spending on infrastructure repair and human capital development – will require a capital budget and a capital budgeting process. Well-run businesses have capital budgeting processes, and so should the State of Maine.
Chapter 9: Stronger Democracy: More Choice, Less Money
- Mainers value independence and good judgment, regardless of labels or party affiliation. Run-offs, open primaries or ranked choice voting will ensure that our elected leaders have the support of the majority of Maine people.
- We can’t expect to have good outcomes – a sound plan and a growing economy – when the inputs are dysfunctional, inequitable and often corrupting. The flood of money in politics is alienating more and more of us from the political process and discouraging participation in it. We can...
- Limit the extent to which big money and special interests dominate the political process through (1) a public match for small donations to political campaigns and (2) limiting campaign spending by political parties’ “coordinated campaigns,” SuperPACs and independent expenditure committees.
- Make the sources of all money spent to influence elections fully transparent.
- Break the link between campaign contributions and lobbyists’ access to lawmakers by limiting the participation by lobbyists in fundraising for political campaigns
Chapter 10: Younger: Turning Maine’s Demographic Tide
- Unless Maine gets younger, our economy will not grow.
- Creating conditions that attract and retain young people will benefit Maine in every respect.
- Forgive Maine income tax liability for payments against student debt so long as a graduate lives and works in Maine for a prescribed length of time.
- Aggressively recruit educated and skilled legal immigrants to Maine.
Chapter 11: Set a Bold Course Forward
- Now is the time to unshackle ourselves from the legacy of poor decisions and needless conflict. Maine people deserve better.
- A good plan for Maine will reflect our most important values: fairness, compassion for our neighbors, shared obligations to each other and to our natural environment, and a rational, balanced approach to solving problems.