Strengthening our economy in the New Year
Some of you may know me already, but for those who don’t, I am John Patrick and I represent Oxford County in the Maine Senate. I am honored and blessed to have received the support of our community, and I look forward to my second term as your Senator. For the next two years, I will be keeping you up to date on what is happening at the State House through this column, my e-mail newsletter, and community meetings.
This is an exciting time of year. Winter has arrived, and soon after we ring in the New Year, the legislature will be in session. The makeup of the legislature changed after November’s election. With newly elected lawmakers filling the halls of the State House in January, and Democratic majorities in both chambers, we have an opportunity to take a fresh approach to the challenges facing our great state.
We heard from hundreds of thousands of constituents who told us to focus on putting people back to work and strengthening our economy. And that’s just what we’re going to do.
I am glad to report that top Democratic leaders in the Maine Senate and House have announced the formation of the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future. The joint select committee will put distractions aside, and focus exclusively on the economy. The decision was fueled by a commitment to help Maine people who need jobs, the employers that are looking for a trained workforce, and the downtown centers that thrive when the economy is doing well.
We expect the committee to focus on three areas: addressing the workforce skills gap to better connect workers and businesses, investing in our downtowns and Main Street -- the economic engines of our state, and strengthening our small businesses to help them thrive and compete in today's economy.
As many Mainers know all too well, the Maine economy is struggling while our New England neighbors have begun emerging from the recession. In 2011, Maine was the only state in New England whose economy shrank. We now have an opportunity to jump-start our economy, and create a long-term path toward economic strength. Members of the committee will meet with workforce experts, economists, and business leaders during the coming months to create solutions that will help address Maine’s specific challenges and lay a foundation for a stronger economic future.
I am hopeful that positive change will come through the concentrated efforts of this committee, and I will keep you updated on its efforts.
I will continue to work towards our priorities to strengthen our economy and grow our middle class, and listen to different viewpoints to reach the best solutions for our communities and the state of Maine. In my next column, I will be letting you know about the specific legislation I plan to submit during the upcoming session.
We have a lot of work to do in this upcoming session, and as always, it is important for me to hear from my constituents. You can reach me in Rumford at 364-7666, in Augusta at 287-1515, or by email at email@example.com, and of course you’re always welcome to visit me in the State House. My first priority is to serve the people of District 14, and I can only do that by talking with you and hearing your ideas and concerns. I look forward to our conversations.