GEORGETOWN — Each year our elected representatives have more trouble balancing our state budget – a problem caused in large part by their own doing.

Even before the economic collapse of 2008, Maine wrestled with private-sector job loss, revenue shortfalls and a sagging economy.

The general response by Augusta has been a mix of across-the-board cuts, budget gimmicks, furlough days and looting funds set aside for other purposes.

Since the recession, this kind of fiscal mismanagement has exacerbated Maine’s economic problems. This should be a fiscal wake-up call.

Those in charge of our state budget should see this as an opportunity to reassess the status quo, set priorities and forge a new, sustainable direction for our economy. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Instead, our state government behaves much like a poor football team that doesn’t understand the basics of how to play the game.

Rather than learning how to block and tackle, Maine throws a fiscal Hail Mary each year – a budgeting prayer that will save us at the last minute.

Last year, our elected officials balanced the books with hundreds of millions of dollars from Washington, D.C. In prior years, they raided funds set aside for roads and bridges to pump money into bloated and wasteful state programs. A structural deficit remains on the horizon even after the most recent budget “fix.”

In the real world, this dangerous and irresponsible behavior is called “management by hope.”

Maine can no longer afford such careless fiscal mismanagement. Our citizens are taxed to death as a result.

We cannot make targeted spending reductions because our state government has no evaluation system to measure the effectiveness of its programs. Our state agencies are not held accountable for how tax dollars are wasted.

In order to bring prosperity back to our state, we need to elect a competent manager as our next governor.

A skilled manager can help the state in ways that a career politician from Augusta or Washington cannot.

A good manager audits departments, agencies and programs to eliminate waste and redundancy, and institutes measurable goals and evaluation systems to gauge success or failure.

If a program is not working, an experienced manager responds quickly.

In Maine’s case, a lack of management skills has led to across-the-board cuts that don’t work because they leave poorly performing programs in place.

Our next governor must appoint professional managers to run our departments and agencies.

These important positions should not go to political friends, donors, career bureaucrats or campaign workers.

We need knowledgeable and experienced people managing every level of government.

Only a skilled manager from the private sector can provide the leadership and long-term vision to build a prosperous and sustainable economy.

My entire professional life has been in the private sector, successfully starting, managing and investing in companies that have created good work for hundreds of Mainers and injected millions of dollars into our economy.

My background in finance and business management gives me the experience to address our ongoing budget crisis.

I have painfully navigated the state’s complex web of regulations and bureaucracy. I know how tough it is to start and manage a business here, and will work to help Maine become more business-friendly.

Good management won’t come from career politicians concerned about the next election.

Maine must move past the politicians and elect a competent manager with successful private sector experience.

We need someone who has the courage to confront these challenges head on, but also has the background and proven management skills to get it done.

 

– Special to the Press Herald