Steve Rowe talks a lot about education, preventive health care and renewable energy. But, he said, all of those things add up to the first thing on the minds of many Maine voters: jobs.
“We need more jobs in Maine, jobs that pay a living wage and jobs that will be sustainable,” Rowe told MaineToday Media’s endorsement board Friday. “This election’s about jobs.”
The former Maine attorney general and House speaker from Portland is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. Rowe said he would focus on four goals to stimulate the economy and job growth: improved education, reduced health care costs, reduced energy costs and improved infrastructure, including roads, bridges and Internet access.
He said he would “go upstream” to address the causes of problems such as high school dropout rates or substance abuse.
“We wait until things break, and then we spend a lot of time and money trying to fix them,” he said. “I want to get into the business of prevention.”
For example, Rowe said he wants more state resources devoted to early childhood education because that is a cost-effective way to create a healthy, skilled work force.
“What happens early in a child’s life has a profound effect on what happens later,” he said. “The earlier you invest in a human being, the larger the return.”
Rowe said he wants to experiment with the traditional school calendar, perhaps with a few breaks instead of one long summer vacation, so students and teachers don’t have to spend so much time catching up. He wants to give teachers more professional development and freedom to innovate.
Rowe said he would reduce Maine’s health care costs by promoting preventive care, in part by increasing reimbursement rates for community-based care.
Rowe said he supports the development of renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, tidal and biomass, to reduce dependence on expensive and dirty fossil fuels.
He said he doesn’t want to raise taxes, “but we may have to.” Without new revenue, for example, roads and bridges would have to be closed or allowed to deteriorate, he said.