All Maine Matters

October 2006



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All Maine Matters

Because All of Maine DOES Matter!
Vol. 1, No. 10      October 2006 FREE

Youth Exodus Indicates a Need for Change
by Dan Schuberth

A great deal of ink has been spilled over the past ten years as reporters, pundits and politicians have attempted to explain why Maine’s young people have been leaving the state in droves after completing their high school or college education. Some have suggested that a youth exodus is natural and even healthy as it is important that our young people get out, see the world and gain valuable life experience outside of the “shire”.

While this view is not without merit, it is also worth considering that most of the young people that leave Maine immediately after high school or college do not make it back. In fact, over 22% of Maine’s high school and college graduates leave Maine to pursue employment opportunities elsewhere compared to only 5.4% on the national average; only a fraction of these young people make it back to Maine (US Census Bureau).

The failure of Maine’s young people to return to their home, or for many, their decision to leave Maine in the first place is not rooted in a lack of interest in Maine and what it has to offer its young people. It is not due to a shortage of movie theaters or rock concerts as some would suggest. Maine’s young people are being driven out of Maine by a chronic lack of good paying jobs.

In order to make the decision to stay in Maine and eventually raise a family, Maine’s young people must be able to find jobs that pays them more and offer them more benefits than comparable jobs in other states. Time and time again, Maine’s youth are wooed away by higher salaries, more affordable healthcare and greater employee benefits in the neighboring states like New Hampshire.

There are three critical factors that have contributed to a consistent lack of good-paying jobs in Maine.

First, Maine’s state and local tax burden are the highest of any state in America according to the United States Department of Commerce. High taxes take money out of the pockets of young people and leave them with fewer options for spending and investment. When Maine’s small businesses are taxed, their employees receive fewer benefits and many businesses are forced to reduce their workforce, leaving young people to look to other states for employment opportunities.

Second, Maine is an “unfriendly” place to start and maintain a small business. In fact, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council ranked Maine as the 49th worst state in America to start and maintain a small business. When the cost of starting a small business, due to unnecessary state regulations and fees outweighs the potential benefit, small business owners look elsewhere to start their business, and they take the promise of good-paying jobs with them.

Third, Maine has failed to provide access to affordable healthcare to its citizens. Dirigo Health has failed to reduce the cost of healthcare for Maine’s small businesses and removed any potential for future cost reduction by eliminating competition in Maine’s healthcare market. When small businesses in Maine cannot afford to provide their employees with basic health benefits but employers in other states can, young people act in their own best interest by leaving Maine. These economic realities have not appeared out of thin air, or come from Washington as Governor Baldacci and Majority Democrats in Augusta would suggest. High taxes, unfair regulations and unaffordable healthcare come as the result of real votes by real people that we elect to represent us in Augusta.

Majority Democrats have controlled Augusta for 32 years; hence, they are responsible for every tax increase, every unnecessary business regulation, and every increase in the cost of health insurance. Their votes against small business have lead directly to a lack of good-paying jobs in Maine, and directly to the youth exodus we desperately need to put an end to.

Maine’s citizens, especially our young people need a fundamental change of leadership in Augusta. Republican leaders like Senator Chandler Woodcock, Senator Carol Weston and Representative Josh Tardy offer a clear alternative to more empty rhetoric and more broken promises. In order for our young people to stay in Maine, we need leaders that will put Maine first and advance legislation to reduce our tax burden, decrease unfair business regulations and lower the cost of healthcare. Maine desperately needs a change; our future and the future of our young people depend on it.

Dan Schuberth serves as the Vice Chairman of the Maine Republican Party. He is currently the youngest serving state party officer in America at the age of 22.

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