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In his State of the State address last night, Maine Governor LePage praised the virtues of right to work states as exemplars of "economic opportunity." The speech was a page taken right out of the American Legislative Exchange Council's playbook. In keeping with ALEC's script, the Governor left out less savory information on Right to Work states - their high levels of poverty, child fatalities, lack of worker and environmental protection, and low standards of living.  Apparently these are the hidden standards the Governor thinks the good people of Maine should aspire to.

"...I spent most of my career in business creating jobs for hard working Mainers. I know what it takes to expand and create jobs. Maine’s cost of doing business is simply too high.

For example, Alabama, South Carolina, Indiana, and Texas are attracting huge investments by companies, providing higher paying jobs for their residents, without exorbitant taxpayer subsidies.

Why shouldn’t Maine people benefit from the same economic opportunity?

Remember one simple truth: “Capital investment goes where it is welcomed – and stays where it is appreciated.”..."

http://www.onlinesentinel.com/...

As usual, the Governor is ignoring inconvenient truths. The "capital" of the people he truly represents, ALEC, goes where it can make the most profit at the costs of workers, communities, our children, and the environment. Examples abound - the chemical spill in West Virginia, the fertilizer explosions in Texas and in Indiana, and the 2.7 million gallons of crude oil spilled in Alabama, to name a few. These examples occurred in so called "Right to Work" states with abysmal environmental protection records. These are States that also have some of the nation's highest levels of infant mortality, children in poverty, and lowest levels of funding for public health and education.  
[1st represents the best state for children and 51st represents the worst state for children in the country]

Alabama Ranks:
47th among states in percentage of babies born at low birthweight.
50th among states in its infant mortality rate.
41st among states in per pupil expenditures

Child Poverty in Alabama
Number of poor children (and percent poor) 306,973 (27.6%)
Number of children living in extreme poverty (and percent in extreme poverty) 134,329 (12.1 %)
Number of children receiving cash assistance from Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)   41,198
Maximum monthly TANF cash assistance for a family of three $215

Indiana Ranks:
24th among states in percent of babies born at low birthweight.
45th among states in its infant mortality rate.
32nd among states in per pupil expenditures.

Child Poverty in Indiana
Number of poor children (and percent poor) 360,859 (23.0%)
Number of children living in extreme poverty (and percent in extreme poverty) 180,971 (11.6%)
Number of children receiving
cash assistance from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families TANF)
44,839
Maximum monthly TANF cash assistance for a family of three  $288

South Carolina Ranks:
47th among states in percent of babies born at low birthweight.
42nd among states in its infant mortality rate.
37th among states in per pupil expenditures.

Child Poverty in South Carolina
Number of poor children (and percent poor)    296,759 (27.8%)
Number of children living in extreme poverty (and percent in extreme poverty)  139,974 (13.1%)
Number of children receiving cash assistance from Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)    30,360
Maximum monthly TANF cash assistance for a family of three - $216

Texas Ranks:
33rd among states in percent of babies born at low birthweight.
23rd among states in its infant mortality rate.
43rd among states in per pupil expenditures.

Child Poverty in Texas
Number of poor children (and percent poor)
1,829,214(26.6%)
Number of children living in extreme poverty (and percent in extreme poverty) 762,622(11.1%)
Number of children receiving cash assistance from Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)      95,371
Maximum monthly TANF cash assistance for a family of three  $260

http://www.childrensdefense.org/...

These are the Governor's examples of "economic opportunity." But the "opportunity" he's pushing is not for the people of Maine, it is for the benefit of LePage's neo-feudal backers - the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

ALEC's track record is evident in every "Right to Work" state where they have successfully pushed their legislative agenda. "Right to Work" states suffer on any measure of quality of life and middle class growth.

For those who prefer facts to the ALEC propaganda that LePage spins, Darrell Minor's study Poverty, Productivity, and Public Health: The Effects of "Right to Work" Laws on Key Standards of Living is a must read piece.

Minor has "analyzed a spectrum of seven measures for standard of living;" States' Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Poverty Levels, Health Insurance coverage, Life expectancy, Home ownership, Joblessness, and Income Gap, to determine whether there are differences in those measures between "right to work" states and those states that are worker friendly.

What he finds puts the lie to LePage and every right to work advocate's claims on right to work laws, job creation, and quality of life.

...To sum up, this study has found that worker-friendly states are significantly healthier, are more productive, have less poverty, and with citizens who enjoy longer life spans. In four of the seven measures (GDP per capita, poverty, insurance and life expectancy rates) so-called “right-to-work” states come out significantly (and statistically) worse.

These findings have broad policy implications in those states where lawmakers are wrongly considering RTW measures, and should inform the good efforts of union members and allies to quell those efforts. Instead of pursuing laws that actually lower the standard of living in their states, policy makers should look for ways to elevate everyone’s standard of living. Enacting RTW laws is not only misguided, but in fact counterproductive to achieving such ends. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as ‘right to work.’ It provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works’. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining.”[26] The evidence suggests that Dr. King was correct in this belief, and that those who would advocate for a state to enact RTW laws would also be lowering the standard of living for that state’s residents.

In other words, if Governor LePage's lips are moving, he's lying, just as he has every time he has used the phrases "tax cuts," "Job Creators," or "Right to Work." Last evening's address was no exception. A robust middle class is what powers a healthy economy and Governor LePage's anti-worker, anti-education, anti poor, anti-towns, anti-education, anti-child, agenda is an attack on the middle class and the working poor by other means.

Despite the Governor's avowed love of lower taxes, that love only extends to the powerful corporate entities that support him, not to smaller businesses, our communities, or our people.

One of the most telling examples of that is the Governor's attack on Maine's public education. At a time when "Green" is the new Gold standard, with Green technologies creating more jobs in states that support investment in education, research, and infrastructure, the LePage administration has cut the state's share of revenue funding to towns. This has had a punishing impact on communities as they struggle to maintain infrastructure and educate our children.  

"...The second fact left out of LePage campaign literature is that the cost of education has not stood still during his years in office. As state aid to schools stagnated at artificially low levels, it was up to communities to raise taxes and cut services, in effect subsidizing an income tax cut with cuts that hurt middle-class and poor families.

Another way to express this trend is by looking at how close the state has come to funding education at the 55 percent required by law.

According to a study commissioned by the Legislature, the state share hovered between 50 percent and 53 percent from 2006 to the 2008-2009 school year. It has declined steadily ever since, dropping to 42 percent last year...."

http://www.pressherald.com/...

The Governor repeatedly claims to be for lower taxes, when he is in fact pushing higher taxes onto our municipalities and our neighbors in order to give tax breaks to his puppet masters.

LePage is not pushing an agenda that benefits Maine's people. He's trying to sell the wish list of the American Legislative Exchange Council.  "Right to Work" legislation is at the top of that list, along with limiting consumer rights, voting rights, and privatizing government services. Sound familiar? It should. ALEC has been pushing similar legislation in state houses across the country.

In spite of the Governor's "I'm just a hard working Mainer like you" rhetoric, he is not working for Mainers.  It is ALEC who has been dictating LePage administration policies. The attack upon our state's workers and worker's rights, is not happenstance. It's a set up to rob us of our children's right to an education and our tax dollars.

"...the core of ALEC's education agenda is about vouchers and privatization. Of course, since educators have unions that resist vouchers and privatization, they will do anything in their power to weaken our unions and silence our voices. That's why ALEC backs anti-union measures like the attack on workers' right to collective bargaining. They want to strip away our ability to negotiate not only for salary and health care for our families, but also for things that affect our students, like smaller class sizes."
Governor LePage lied to the people of Maine last night. He used verbal smoke and mirrors designed to pit us against one another with buzz words like "welfare fraud" and "right to work." It is a subterfuge used in state after state where ALEC's agenda is pushed by willing politicians. It's designed to distract us from the men behind the curtain robbing us blind.

The people of Maine, the people of this nation, deserve far better. We deserve true public servants, not bought and paid for Governors and Legislators like LePage that work against the people's best interest.

Together, we can rid ourselves of these parasites who are sucking our states and nation dry.

If you would like to help Maine dump the odious LePage, please do what you can to support Mike Michaud's campaign for Governor - http://www.michaud2014.com/

We need him rather badly to avoid being another version of Alabama, South Carolina, Indiana, and Texas. That's an "economic opportunity" no one needs.

Originally posted to Onomastic on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 11:23 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Barriers and Bridges, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Kitchen Table Kibitzing.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We refuse to "owe our souls" to ALEC and (30+ / 0-)

    its puppet politicians. Get out the truth and get out the Vote!


     

    There is something in us that refuses to be regarded as less than human. We are created for freedom - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    by Onomastic on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 11:23:20 AM PST

  •  For those of you who love the traditional (10+ / 0-)

    version of "16 Tons" sung by the man who wrote the song -

    There is something in us that refuses to be regarded as less than human. We are created for freedom - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    by Onomastic on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 12:09:38 PM PST

  •  Thanks, Ono! (9+ / 0-)

    Your current governor is such an odious man! I would finish one of your sentences differently:

    In other words, Governor LePage is lying, just as he has every time he..."
    Me: "...moves his lips."

    Dropped a small donation to Mike Michaud -- I see they are giving out bumper stickers to donors today! Thanks for calling this to our attention. There are far too many states whose governors are at war with the needs of the citizens. Hopefully we can fix this in Maine, at least!


    Shop Kos Katalogue ❧ Help Okiciyap at Cheyenne River reservation.

    by belinda ridgewood on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 01:02:27 PM PST

    •  Thank you so much! (5+ / 0-)

      Think we can turn it around in Maine, but then we're lucky in that we do have a good man running for Governor and a Democratic controlled legislature. It's still going to be a hard fight but I think we can do it.

      Hope we can turn it around it all the states that are being hammered so hard by this crap.

      It's just crucial that we get the word out on what ALEC and it's bought politicians are doing, one letter or conversation or shared post at a time.

      By the way, edited the diary and used your fitting suggestion. :)

      There is something in us that refuses to be regarded as less than human. We are created for freedom - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

      by Onomastic on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 01:15:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  LePage is also lying if he says Texas lures (7+ / 0-)

    companies without the use of economic incentives.

    The Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) alone has given away $500MM in the last ten years, far more than most states.

    http://www.governor.state.tx.us/...

    And that does not include other grants from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF) and other pots of state money, 'workforce development' programs, and state and local tax 'incentives.'

    And yes, Texas has also had the phony tax cuts that only increase fees of all kinds and local property taxes.

    These broken people won't stop, they will have to be stopped.  I hope and expect the worm will be turning shortly.

    Their real God is money-- Jesus just drives the armored car, and his hat is made in China. © 2009 All Rights Reserved

    by oblomov on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 01:06:14 PM PST

    •  I'm with you in that hope. (3+ / 0-)

      You're absolutely right, they won't stop until we make them.

      Appreciate the information on what is going on in Texas.

      It's a huge trickle up of tax dollars to the well connected few, isn't it, while we get the real drip, drip, drip in a drought trickle down.

      They're robbing our states blind.

       

      There is something in us that refuses to be regarded as less than human. We are created for freedom - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

      by Onomastic on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 01:21:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  lepage still belongs in a straight jacket (4+ / 0-)

    i don't really understand why the voters have not petitioned to remove this idiot from government.  how do you keep someone who engine is operating on only one cylinder? and people wonder what is wrong with our country?

    •  What we need is to have runoff elections (5+ / 0-)

      if a candidate does not win more than a certain percentage of the vote. LePage was elected by 37.4% of votes cast in a multiple candidate election.

      Until last year the Legislature was controlled by Republicans so there was no hope for removing LePage from office even if charges were filled.

      Article V, Section 12
      Shall enforce the laws. The Governor shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

      Article IX, Section 5
      Removal by impeachment or address. Every person holding any civil office under this State, may be removed by impeachment, for misdemeanor in office; and every person holding any office, may be removed by the Governor on the address of both branches of the Legislature. But before such address shall pass either House, the causes of removal shall be stated and entered on the journal of the House in which it originated, and a copy thereof served on the person in office, that the person may be admitted to a hearing in that person's own defense.

      Now he's up for re-election and that is our best bet of getting rid of him.

      There is something in us that refuses to be regarded as less than human. We are created for freedom - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

      by Onomastic on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 01:29:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Believe me (4+ / 0-)

      We would if we could.  Maine does not have a recall provision.

      Best option is to elect Mike Michaud as our next governor.

      The opposite of "good" is "good intention" - Kurt Tucholsky

      by DowneastDem on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 02:36:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this excellent diary, am saving it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Onomastic, oldpotsmuggler

    for future reference.

    ALEC--ugh!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 04:11:23 PM PST

    •  You are most welcome, Diana. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oldpotsmuggler, where4art

      Hope it helps. But I do wish it was better. It's taken me all afternoon to get the diary edited into half way decent shape.

      I truly don't know how Joan, Hunter, Laura, Georgia, MB, Jed, and the rest of our Front Pagers do what they do.

      And no, I'm not fishing for compliments. :)

      Hope your day is going well and you aren't getting battered by this storm.

      There is something in us that refuses to be regarded as less than human. We are created for freedom - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

      by Onomastic on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 04:38:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  maine needs to do 4 things (3+ / 0-)

    1 Elect michaud as Governor
    2 Insert recalls in its state constitution for all state officials
    3 require runoffs in races where there is more than 2 candidates and no one receives a majority- this will apply togovernor a house and Snate races as well
    4 Declare the Maine Woods as a national monument While LURC has done a good job balancing  things regarding decveloping the area, most of the area should be preserved, doing so will create job opportunities for the local residents and bring in more tourist dollars. give folks another reason to visit Maine, Besides Acadia, lobsters, and lighthouses. Lepage tried to open up the North Woods to development before the folks in Maine told him tio pound sand. fortunately, the  Dems control the Maine Assembly and Senate so anything like that is DOA.

  •  Remember... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Onomastic

    ... wayback in 2011. Stated helping out a journalist in ME work potential ALEC model bills. She did one good FOIA, found so much misadventure by the Guv, that there were a whole series of stories on that. Great work up there.

    The dude is seriously out to lunch and out of step with his state, but then again we saw that in WI & MI too.

    TIP Make sure to know the ranking system in ALEC's "Rich States, Poor States" which is a favorite source for these "rankings". The rankings are rigged see THIS.

    We found ALEC charts scatter thru Nerd's presentations and data sets, so if you know them, it helps to ID the the fake stat pitch.

    Rooting for you guys.

    For more than occasional tweets on #ALEC & #SaveMI.

    by Hector Solon on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 08:33:42 PM PST

    •  Can't thank you enough for the information (0+ / 0-)

      and the link, Hector.

      Been exploring that site and others for awhile now.

      This post by Judy Harris on the Maine Center for Economic Policy blog points to a big problem that needs more light - the lack of transparency, oversight, and accountability when it comes to subsides for Big Business.

      The bad news: Maine does not sufficiently scrutinize its business tax expenditures, things like tax credits, deductions, and exemptions that reduce state revenue.[1] Maine spends more than $11 million a year to give income tax credits or exemptions to companies that buy business equipment, that locate and create jobs in certain designated Pine Tree zones, that perform research on new technology, and whose income falls under foreign jurisdictions (tax havens). These tax giveaways cost Maine’s taxpayers money just like spending for schools or road construction. Yet they receive little or no scrutiny.

      As one former legislator and member of the Appropriations Committee Lisa Miller said recently, legislators pour over every part of the state budget with a fine-toothed comb to find savings but conduct virtually no oversight of the millions in revenue lost to tax expenditures.

      According to the Center,

          The more that states spend on tax expenditures, the less they have for direct spending programs, or for reductions in tax rates. This trade-off should be made explicit in order for a state to plan wisely for the future. Yet often it is not.

      http://blog.mecep.org/...

      To make things even more difficult and murky, "Maine’s subsidy disclosure law was quietly repealed in 2009."

      http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/...

      I'm betting that most Mainers do not know about all this and they need too.

      I think getting the public informed in every state as to what ALEC owned "lawmakers" are doing is crucial to turning this all around.

      There is something in us that refuses to be regarded as less than human. We are created for freedom - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

      by Onomastic on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 05:49:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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