The Brookings Institution, a Washington, DC-based think tank, just released a report on Maine called, "Charting Maine's Future," which shows the state having significant economic potential. Despite the optimistic indicators, a pervading sense of pessimism fuels much of the political dialogue and much of our local talk radio.
For instance, If you listen to some in our state, like Ray Richardson, morning host of Fox 23/WLOB’s daily diatribe of “what’s wrong with Maine,” you’d think the only thing we need to do to solve all of Maine’s ills, is to take TABOR to our bosoms and embrace this “slash and burn” approach with the ardor reserved for a lost love, suddenly rediscovered.
However, a clearer understanding of the state’s issues, combined with enough economic theory to be dangerous, or at the very least, somewhat nuanced, will indicate that there are other variables involved.
The performance of our economic well-being is intricately connected to a combination of geography, workforce skills, technology development and the capabilities of local companies to raise and use capital resources, among other factors. Unlike Republican gubernatorial candidate, Chandler Woodcock’s suspiciously vague and negative view of Maine, simply pledging to lower taxes, create jobs and “solve the state’s economic woes,” moving our state forward is more about figuring out how to configure our priorities, amongst competing visions and political and bureaucratic fiefdoms. If we cut taxes, for instance, with TABOR’s slash and burn approach, it might actually aid business and assist with capital formation. However, if it comes at the expense of educating workers, it could mean a net loss for the economy, as many businesses are already contending with a serious shortage of talent in Maine.
The report is available online and is worth reading through.