I am excited to share with you that I was recently appointed to serve as Senate chairperson of the Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future for the upcoming legislative session. As you may recall, I served on this committee this past session, and we worked with Mainers from across the state to create a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive workforce development bill. The measure addresses Maine’s skills gap and will develop our workforce for the good-paying jobs that exist today and those that will come in the future.

Recognizing that Maine’s economic recovery fell behind the rest of the nation, Senate President Alfond created this committee to address our workforce needs and strengthen the economy.

Recent news has highlighted one of Maine’s obstacles to economic progress. June data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Maine has been dead last among the 50 states in job creation since Gov. Paul LePage took office. However, other New England states are recovering and their people are getting back to earning paychecks. Massachusetts has now recovered all the jobs the state lost during the recession and then some, and New Hampshire has brought back three-quarters of the ones they lost. Yet in Maine, we haven’t even brought back a third of all the jobs our state lost in the recession.

An analysis by The Business Journal ranked Gov. LePage as the second worst governor in the nation for his record on jobs. This is the same governor who campaigned on his “business-friendly” approach to governing, but as is so often the case, his rhetoric does not match reality.

In the past two years, Maine has had several opportunities to bring large numbers of jobs into the state, and time and again, the governor has gotten in the way. In some cases, he turned away opportunity. StatOil, a world innovator in wind energy technology, wanted to pilot an offshore wind program in Maine. Earlier this year, StatOil and the PUC entered into a project agreement and Gov. LePage pulled the rug out from under them by playing political games. The cost for Mainers? Hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and hundreds of good-paying, new jobs in a high-tech, developing industry are now in jeopardy.

And for more than two years, Gov. LePage held voter-approved bonds hostage ”“ bonds that would have put more than 4,000 Mainers back to work this construction season.

While there is room for interpretation about political ideology, at the end of the day, the numbers tell a story, and that story isn’t moving Maine in the right direction. Maine’s economy is struggling behind the rest of the nation, and too many Mainers are still out of work. Gov. LePage’s policies aren’t working, and we cannot afford the governor’s do-nothing politics any longer. Mainers want to go back to work.

I look forward to continuing to work with my fellow legislators to make real investments in Maine businesses, Maine people, and Maine’s economic future this session and welcome your input.

— Sen. Linda Valentino is a Democrat who represents the communities of Senate District 5: Buxton, Dayton, Old Orchard Beach, Saco and part of Biddeford. Her column appears on the second Monday of each month.

        Comments are not available on this story.