Enticing families and seniors to stay in Maine

For nearly 20 years, I coached Maine baseball and softball players in Little League, high school and college. I stay in touch with many of my former players. I follow their careers and celebrate their weddings.

Sadly, many of these young adults are now outside of Maine and looking in. They yearn to return home to raise their children in our safe communities, and to be closer to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and old friends. Unfortunately, most can’t find good jobs to carry their families back over the bridge from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and beyond.

When visiting my hometown of Waterville, I often find it frustrating to reconnect with old neighbors and friends. Many, now retired, have changed their state residencies and leave Maine for six months plus one day every year. Most want to spend their golden years among the towering pines, clear lakes and bean suppers, but they can no longer afford Maine’s high taxes and expensive monthly heating and health insurance bills.

Two of Maine’s most precious assets are its young adults and senior citizens. Young families fill our classrooms, work our jobs, and provide the rest of us with immeasurable joy. Wise and generous seniors guide our charities, volunteer at our churches and grow the state economy by investing in small businesses and by purchasing goods and services from others.

To the detriment of those left behind, for decades, Maine has been losing too many young families and retirees. During the past two years there has been a growing public awareness backed by hard facts as to why this unhealthy exodus continues.

The accompanying graph  shows local property taxes in Maine have more than doubled since 1992. If the cost of municipal government and school programs had grown at the rate of inflation, Maine property taxes might be half of what they are today. That means an Auburn family paying a $3,200 tax might keep $1,600 more in its pockets every year. That would lower the cost to live and work in Auburn (and other communities) and encourage young families and seniors to stay in Maine.

Recently, municipal governments have been finding ways to share and consolidate fire and police protection, road maintenance, and other services in order to end the surge in property taxes. At least for now, Augusta has stopped the dramatic expansion of our Medicaid health care welfare program, called MaineCare. This huge program has caused Maine’s ongoing budget crisis and pushed up state income taxes to among the highest in America. In 2011, Maine enacted the largest tax cut in state history that included reductions in the personal income tax, business taxes, and user fees. Lower taxes and more employment opportunities will entice the young and the old to remain in Maine, strengthening our families and communities.

Last year, my Office of the State Treasurer joined the governor’s office and other state officials to facilitate the construction of natural gas pipelines in Maine without using tax dollars. Private companies have already started construction. Connecting mills and factories is expected to be followed by homes and small businesses. Within four to five years, many Maine families and companies could be paying 40-50 percent less to heat their homes and operate their machines. That could save the average Maine family nearly $1,500 per year in heating bills, and assist our businesses to be more successful and hire more workers. Lower energy costs will help young families, retirees, businesses and jobs to stay in Maine.

In 2011, the Legislature passed a new law aimed at slowing and, over time, reducing the skyrocketing monthly health insurance bills that drain family and small company budgets. By introducing competition into the Maine health insurance market, premium increases have already slowed dramatically and, in many cases, premiums have fallen. For example, before the new law, 29-year-old parents with two children paid $1,560 per month for a $2,000 deductible policy. Today, according to the Maine Bureau of Insurance website that young family can purchase essentially the same coverage for $683 per month – an $877 per month savings! Lower health insurance costs will make it possible for more young adults and seniors to reside here in Maine.

All of these positive changes during the past two years are designed to make it easier and less expensive to live and work in Maine. They are the cornerstones of a healthier state economy and more jobs. It will be very good for Maine when our young families and senior citizens are able to comfortably live, find good work, and raise their families in the place they love. Let’s encourage our state legislators to continue down this compassionate, common sense path.

Bruce Poliquin is the former Maine State Treasurer and a 2012 Republican primary candidate for the United States Senate. He has 35 years of experience owning and managing businesses. Bruce is a proud third-generation Franco-American Mainer and Harvard University graduate. Visit BrucePoliquin.net for his most recent commentary and analysis on media outlets throughout the State about the important issues facing Maine families and their jobs.  Follow Bruce on Facebook  at www.facebook.com/BrucePoliquin and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Brucepoliquin.

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Comments

Gerald Weinand's picture

Impact of taxes on migration

Poliquin, like many others who espouse the idea of reducing or eliminating taxes on well heeled retirees, repeats the claim that many "have changed their state residencies and leave Maine for six months plus one day every year." He offers no proof to support this claim, and that is likely because his claim isn't true.

I urge Mr. Poliquin to take a moment and read The Impact of Taxes on Migration in New England by Jeffrey Thompson (see link below). From it:

"Results of a new statistical analysis of migration suggest there is no simple impact of taxes on migration. Economic conditions, property crime rates, and higher education enrollment all impact migration in anticipated ways. Higher taxes in the state of origin, however, diminish out-migration from the state. Higher taxes in destination states also diminish migration to those states. Overall the results suggest that taxes do not cause out-migration, but do influence on the choice of destination for some migrating households."

http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/published_study/Migration_PERI_A...

Steve  Dosh's picture

Enticing families and seniors to stay in Maine

Bruce Poliquin Cinco de Mayo 2 0 1 3 20:0 hst ?
Talk with http://www.aarp.org ƒirst ? They rate the Great Sta†e of Maine as one of the five ( 5 ) worst in these very US of A to retire to
Then launch your campaign , Brewster • We are tired of sweeping up after you elephants
You and your paranoid Governor simply offer 19th century solutions for 21 st centiury problems , when you recognize a problem to be a problem . Jobs ? Shoes and boots ? Boos and shoots ?
btw - How was your concealed gun fest in Houston TX the other day ? Does Sanford ME = Sanford Flori-duh yet ? Remember Treyvon . He was that kid who got shot buying a Pepsi ® and some Twinkies ® and Newtown CT , Aurora & Jim Brady and others . Guns kill
Alo'ha from Pahoa HI us of a , birth state of our sitting President , all you dumb birthers . Denial . A river in Egypt ?
/s , Dr. Dosh and ohana

DONALD FERLAND's picture

This from a politician who

This from a politician who has not been completely forthcoming with how he conducts his personal business....once a liar always a liar....sorry just my opinion and anyone who advocates for LePage and is a LePage yes man is not someone I would ever trust

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

insurance

You sound like a politician with those big numbers when in reality they are just hog wash. you did not state where to buy the cheaper insurance nor if the insurance had the same benefit criteria. Suffice it to say your opinion is the same as it is always been Hogwash! Oh sorry YOU ARE A POLITICAIN that must be why the story is such one sided eh!

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Danny...

just go onto ANY medical insurance website and plug in Maine.

You will probably get one hit, if your lucky at high cost. If you plug in other states you will get scores of insurance with scores of prices to fit every risk catagory and age level.

Those of us who have been around here in Maine saw the mass exodous of health insurers when Maine decided to dictate the requirements for health care; this happened about 13 years ago.

Bruce's comments are right on, and I hope more and more people will listen to his words of wisdom.

I don't make decisions based on FEELINGS, I make them based on facts.

Still miss the days when Bruce was our treasurer and the Maine debt clock counted down instead of spiralling upward.

We miss you Bruce and hope your throw you hat in the ring again and challenge the status quo of higher taxes and higher spending in Maine.

My only question Mr. Poliquin is can we borrow some of your DNA and clone you!

Steve  Dosh's picture

Amadeo , Cinco de Mayo

Amadeo , Cinco de Mayo 20:20 hst ?  You don't really have to buy into health care http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/03/12/1703581/lepage-obamacare-medi... but you do and will continue to pay for your Governor's insurance , protective detail , Blaire House , and pension and annuity ( as well as Susan's in DC )
Come to think of it , there is no Obamacare ® in la Canada or Mexico ( the country )
Why not move they'ya ?
~ Boas festas ~
hth , Dr. Dosh , HI

Noel Foss's picture

Lots of people have to buy in to healthcare

It's all well and good that under the afore-mentioned Obamacare there's a medicare expansion on the horizon...doesn't help the rest of us out any, though.
Since the passage of the so-called "Affordable" Care Act I've had the pleasure/privilege of watching my health insurance rates (offered through the company I work for) triple, while the services I'm eligible for have decreased and my copays have skyrocketed (for example, it used to be a $50 copay for an ER visit; now it's $250). I haven't changed jobs, we haven't switched carriers, and the number of employees has remained pretty static.
Too bad when the government decided to regulate people to "buy into health care" they didn't bother to regulate the price.

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Because I love America and the State of Maine...

I will stay and try to help fix this fiscal mess the best we can.

Unfortunately there are many who HAVE been forced to make a decision to leave either the state or the country because of financial decisions and ever increasing taxes and fees and ever increasing transfer payments.

Cowards run and hide so that's not my thing.

I have a better idea.

I and those like me will stay and the rest can move; those of the left would be more than confortable in Mexico or Canada. They would fit right in.

Then we will have a remaining electorate and legislators who understand how to set priorities, create jobs and improve the economic climate of Maine and America.

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