JAY, Maine — Taxes, regulation and energy are the No. 1 issues that face the State of Maine and economic development, Gov. Paul LePage said Friday.
He was addressing members and guests at the Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls Chamber of Commerce meeting at LaFleur’s Restaurant.
Until the tax structure is changed, energy costs lowered and regulations reformed, businesses will not consider Maine business friendly, he said.
Forbes rates Maine as 50th in the nation to do business in, he said.
The 125th Legislature did a lot of good toward change, he said. This session, the 126th Legislature, was very different, he said. Things that have been hurtful to the state will continue to do so, he said.
“During the first session we attacked regulatory reform,” LePage said. “Regulatory reform does not mean tearing up town regulations.”
The state has developed an approach to work with communities in a friendly relationship.
He cited Carbonite setting up in Lewiston as one example of the state working with a community to help a business locate there in a more rapid process.
He also told about getting rid of a law in Maine that had prevented lobster traps from being stored on docks because they were killing the seaweed due to the shadows they cast. It was checked into and they were not killing the seaweed, he said.
He signed into law a bill in 2011 that bars the Maine Department of Environmental Protection from regulating the storage of fishing gear on commercial fishing piers.
That law was one of 16 that was removed so far during his term.
High taxes, energy costs and not having a “right-to-work” law have cost the state business, he said.
A right-to-work law allows employees to decide for themselves whether or not to join or financially support a union.
Another big issue hurting the state is high taxes, he said, noting that Maine is one of the highest taxed states in the U.S.
“In order for us to be competitive we have to look at our tax structure,” LePage said.
The current Legislature increased taxes and there was no need for that, he said. The state finished the year with about $50 million more in revenue than projected, he said.
“Taxes are up now and funding for schools is down,” he said.
The budget he had presented the Legislature was balanced, he said.
LePage touched on a number of issues including education, school choice, natural gas and payment of the hospital debt.