AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage has chosen a close personal adviser to lead the Maine Department of Labor, nominating John Butera to become its next commissioner.
Butera, who has been LePage’s senior economic advisor since 2011, is a veteran of Maine economic development leadership. He has held positions with the Maine Department of Economic & Community Development, private development organizations and was executive director of the Central Maine Growth Council.
Butera holds bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.
“While he will be missed in our office, I am confident he will excel in his new role moving the department forward and helping Maine workers and job creators on a variety of labor issues,” said LePage in a written statement. “It is an exciting time to lead the labor department, as Maine now has an all-time high number of private-sector jobs and the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded.”
Butera has led a number of initiatives on behalf of the governor. In 2012, he helped launch a series of workshops on job creation.
“The only job state government can create is another government job,” Butera wrote in a column for the Bangor Daily News at the time. “However, what we can do in Augusta is work to change the environment by which jobs are created in the private sector.”
In another 2012 Bangor Daily News column, Butera defended the governor’s decision to withhold voter-approved bonds.
“Maine taxpayers deserve a quality return on their investment,” wrote Butera. “A careful review of the proposed projects reveals that very few will actually create new, permanent, full-time jobs.”
Butera will be vetted by the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee and will be subject to confirmation in the Maine Senate.
Rep. Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, who co-chairs the committee, said Butera has always been respectful with lawmakers.
“There are no questions about his character, but more about how he envisions his role for the next 18 months,” Fecteau said. “It’s obviously a challenge to affect a great deal of change or to realize goals in a short period of time but it would be nice to hear those goals.”