Dear Governor LePage,
You’ve got a jobs problem.
Since you took office, Maine ranks 46th in job growth and 47th in state economic growth. We’re last in New England in job growth and more than 100,000 Maine people are looking for work or are in search of full-time work.
You’ve got an unprecedented opportunity to improve Maine’s job picture. This isn’t theory, it’s fact.
What would you do if a large corporation called your office and said they were thinking of locating 3,100 jobs in Maine? I expect you would do everything in your power to roll out the red carpet. I suspect you might offer tax breaks and other enticements to seal the deal. I even doubt that you would care if the leader of the corporation were a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent.
President Obama is calling Maine. He’s willing to locate 3,100 jobs in the state. He’s not asking for any tax breaks or demanding any special treatment. In fact, he’s offering to invest $250 million a year in Maine, provide health coverage to as many as 70,000 low income Mainers, and help larger Maine employers avoid costly tax penalties. Tax revenue generated by the new economic activity that these 3,100 jobs would create will offset the administrative costs associated with this deal. The Wall Street Journal, the Heritage Foundation, and Republican governors in other states affirm that this deal would be good for businesses in Maine and our economy.
You have suggested that perhaps we shouldn’t take this deal because there is no guarantee that the money that President Obama is offering will be there in the future. In truth, the same question could be asked of deals involving federal commitments that have created jobs in Maine and resulted in thousands of miles of roads, new bridges and water and sewer projects, destroyers built at Bath Iron Works, money for hospitals and health care providers, and scores of other federally-funded programs. When a company calls your office with an offer to locate in Maine, I don’t think you would reject the deal because they may close their doors at some point in the future. If the federal government went out of business, Maine and America would have far bigger problems on our hands.
There are plenty of other reasons why President Obama’s offer makes sense for Maine. Tens of thousands of people, the majority of whom are working, would qualify for health coverage. Everybody’s future health care cost increases would be lower. And if we refuse the President’s offer, Mainers will just be paying for health coverage for people in other states without getting any of the benefit ourselves.
The bottom-line is that the same argument you’ve been making about the job impact of repaying Maine’s hospitals is even more relevant here.
Rejecting federal health care dollars won’t create jobs. Accepting them will. Pick up the phone, take the money. Let’s get Maine’s economy back on track.