Maine a refuge — for now
I’m writing this letter while visiting a handful of western states as part of a family event. I’m alarmed at what I’m seeing. I grew up in the West, and what I’m experiencing is smoke, heat and fires unlike what I’ve seen in the past. You can feel the change, never mind the need for hard facts and science.
Maine is currently a refuge from this mess, but this will be predictably short lived because we’re all on the planet together. There’s a lot at stake. The well-being of our kids, their kids and future generations is on the line, and the damage at the door isn’t easily reversible.
I encourage all of us to be, and to get behind leaders who are willing to embrace the necessary changes to create a positive impact.
Yes on Question 1
I’m a direct support professional. I love what I do. It’s demanding, tiring and emotionally exhausting, but it’s rewarding to care for your kids with autism and your elderly parents.
I want to stay in this line of work, and Maine desperately needs more people doing this work. Maine is the oldest state in the country, and we’re relying on systems set up in the 1960s, when life expectancy was in the 60s. Right now, Mainers over age 65 will soon outnumber those under 18.
These systems do not address today’s needs, much less prepare for the future, as Maine gets even older.
People are being actively discouraged from staying in the care field because it pays so little and rarely has benefits.
We need to be attracting more people to this line of work and encouraging those already here to stay in it.
The universal home care referendum — Question 1 — on the ballot this year addresses many of these problems, including low pay, worker shortages, lack of benefits, lack of support for seniors, lack of training for care workers, the incredibly high turnover rate of care workers and the number of young people, particularly women, who drop out of the workforce every year to care for their elderly and disabled family members.
Even better, the whole plan is paid for by closing a tax loophole that allows millionaires to pay a lower payroll tax rate than I do.
Vote yes on Question 1 this November.
Maine needs change
As if we needed any more evidence of the LePage administration’s incompetence, we got it last week with the release of the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Information report that predicts Maine is expected to add a net of only 94 new jobs over the next eight years. The oldest population in the country and more deaths than births means Maine faces significant challenges.
Add to that the July report from Maine Development Foundation, Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Educate Maine that noted the state’s workforce is shrinking “because too many workers lack the skills needed in the current economy.”
That report “called for expanding broadband access … urged lawmakers to work to contain healthcare costs while expanding insurance access … and suggested the state develop a comprehensive economic strategy.”
So how have Gov. Paul LePage and his Republican followers in the Legislature spent the past seven-plus years? Blocking access to health insurance, undermining the growth of jobs in solar and offshore wind, ignoring the need for statewide broadband access, and blocking the distribution of monies earmarked for workforce development.
While LePage appeared to be auditioning for a job in Washington, D.C., and leading the ideological battle to ensure more Mainers would live in poverty, the state’s economy was circling the drain.
Electing Shawn Moody as governor ensures a continuation of these failed policies.
How much more proof of the need for a change to we need folks?