Economic development, taking on our state’s drug addiction epidemic, and tax reform – three key items from Governor LePage’s State of the State address Tuesday night. The governor started by telling the people of Maine that his reforms have brought thousands of jobs to our state over the years – but more needs to be done.
“Because of our efforts, good-paying jobs are being created all over the state,” he said.
One of the governor’s proposals to create more jobs and attract more companies to our state – “open for business zones” – which will offer discounted electricity rates, employment tax benefits, and access to capital. Employees in these zones won’t be forced to join unions, pay labor dues or fees.
Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce executive director Theresa Fowler says, “any help that we can get for industry and establishing in Aroostook County would be great.”
Another one of the governor’s proposals tackles the war on drugs in our state – which he stated that we are losing, with 163 drug-induced deaths in Maine in 2012. He proposed adding four new special drug prosecutors and four new judges to sit in special drug courts in four cities in our state – Presque Isle being one of them. He also wants to add 14 agents to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Former MDEA Division Commander Darrell Crandall says, “adding resources to drug enforcement in the state of maine is something that I’ve fought for for years and i would support – I have a tendency having been in that spot for so long not to get too excited about these proposals until they work their way through the legislative process”
District attorney Todd Collins says having more of these resources would make sense if we look at our state’s drug issue on a broad scope.
“Drug crimes aren’t just drug possession and drug trafficking..it is what crimes are driven by people who are under the influence of drugs, how are crimes committed by people who want to get money for those drugs,” he said.
A third proposal by the governor suggested the state ask voters if they want to lower taxes and state spending in order to bring Maine’s tax code “into the 21st century”. He ended his speech saying that “success doesn’t happen by doing nothing.”