A news story April 10 said that Gov. Paul LePage believes New Hampshire can be a model for Maine in a quest for prosperity.

I respectfully suggest that the governor should notice that much of New Hampshire’s prosperity has been concentrated in communities close to the Massachusetts border.

Thousands of Massachusetts residents settled in that area beginning in the 1950s, choosing to abandon the Bay State and enjoy the Granite State’s cheaper housing and lower taxes. Enabled by the construction of I-93 and I-95, they commute long distances to well-paid jobs in Massachusetts.

A look at 2008 census figures shows that the prosperity of New Hampshire residents varies depending on their nearness to Massachusetts. Residents of the two eastern counties closest to Massachusetts have the highest household incomes: the Hillsborough County figure is $68,613 and Rockingham County has an enviable household income of $75,425 These two counties undoubtedly inflate the state average (which is $63,235).

So, in fairness, we should credit New Hampshire’s higher-than-Maine household income at least partly to its geographical location and the prosperity of its neighbor to the south.

Note also that Maine’s highest income-earners ($54,626 per household) live in York County and some of them commute to jobs in Massachusetts.

Here’s a whimsical suggestion: Perhaps Gov. LePage can shift Maine’s border southward by annexing coastal New Hampshire and capture some of that state’s prosperity.

Russ Burbank, Lewiston


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