December 23, 2012

Our View: Skills gap right issue for Legislature's focus

Training Mainers for jobs that are already here is the best form of economic development.

Democrats in the Legislature could have picked from a broad range of issues on which to focus this session.

They could have kicked off their return to power with an assault on the tax cuts passed by the Republican-led Legislature in 2011, the Republican backed overhaul of the state's health insurance regulations or Gov. LePage's refusal to create a state exchange to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act.

Any of those would lead to a spirited floor fight, a likely veto and plenty of opportunities for the parties to highlight their differences.

Those fights will likely happen someday, but the Democratic leadership's decision to kick off the session with a focus on workforce development shows a interest in getting things done and not just framing issues.

Helping to better train unemployed, under employed and future Maine workers for good jobs that either exist now or will soon should not be a partisan issue, and it has been one of Gov. LePage's priorities for his first two years in office.

This seems to be an issue that is ripe for bipartisan cooperation, and if it's done well, would have a positive impact on Maine's economy, for large employers, small businesses and employees.

Some Republicans grouse that this is one of their issues, but they would be wise not to let this opportunity to work on it pass them by. Successfully improving prospects for Maine's workforce could restart a sluggish economy, and if that happens, there will be plenty of credit to go around.

 

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