Committee to focus on helping workers, businesses and Maine communities succeed in our economy

Top Democratic leaders of the Maine Senate and House today announced the formation of a “Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future”.  The joint select committee will be charged with reporting out legislation to strengthen Maine’s workforce, capitalize on our state’s economic engines, and help Maine’s small businesses thrive.

“Maine needs a short term plan to jump-start our economy and a long term vision of Maine’s economic future,” said Senate President Justin Alfond. “The work of this committee is how Maine can invest in our people, places and businesses. We can grow our economy for today and tomorrow.”

The joint select committee will work with experts and industry leaders to formulate a plan to improve Maine’s economy.  Democrats said the plan would build on the bipartisan work done last session to streamline regulations.

“Maine’s economy has slid backwards during the past two years, while so many of our neighbors have begun to emerge from the recession,” said Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick. “Democrats and Republicans worked together last session on bipartisan legislation to streamline regulations. Now, we must look at the other side of the coin.”

Eves added, “We must address our skills gap through better workforce development training and use education and training tools to help more Maine people stay and climb into the middle class.”

In 2011, Maine was the only state in New England whose economy shrank, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Maine is one of only three states nationwide in 2012 whose revenues were below estimates, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures (NCSL) Budget Update for Fall 2012.

“We must take advantage of boosting our economy in the short term while also building it to last by focusing on Maine workers and small businesses,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall. “Targeting investments that strengthen the skill set of Maine workers will improve our economy and grow the middle class.”

Goodall who also serves on the Maine Economic Growth Council added, “A key to our economic recovery include priorities and investments that take into consideration job creation and workforce development.”

The committee will meet with workforce experts, economists, and business leaders during the coming months to formulate solutions that will help address Maine’s workforce challenges and lay a foundation for a stronger economic future.

Members will be named to the committee in the coming weeks.