AUGUSTA — Mainers want change that benefits working people. That’s the lesson from this year’s election results.

While neither party can claim a sweeping electoral victory in Maine, when newly elected and returning legislators convene in Augusta in December, they will have clear instructions from the people of Maine in several policy areas.

A majority of Mainers voted for fair wages, supporting Maine schools and improving our roads. On the presidential campaign trail, both candidates agreed on the importance of supporting good-paying jobs, helping families with the cost of child care and the need to modernize our infrastructure. Mainers chose policies that invest in our communities and our workers.

Mainers agreed overwhelmingly to raise the minimum wage to $12 by 2020, and close the loophole that allows restaurants to underpay their wait staff. Likewise, they voiced their support for the wealthiest Maine households paying their fair share to support our schools.

Mainers across the state supported both questions 4 and 2. A majority of voters in both Maine’s congressional districts approved raising the minimum wage, while Mainers from Paris to Calais and Fort Kent to Kennebunk voted in favor of the tax surcharge on annual income above $200,000 to fund education. The first order of business for the 128th Legislature must be to enact both measures, which will ensure fair pay for hard-working Mainers, and provide Maine students with the best chance of future economic success.

Exit polling from this year’s election revealed that even as they acknowledge an improved national economy, Mainers expressed overwhelming concern about the state’s economy. This year, 66 percent of voters told exit pollsters that their family’s financial well-being is about the same as, or worse, than it was four years ago. Three-quarters of the electorate said the same thing in 2012 – which suggests that a large share of Mainers continue to find their personal economic security no better than it was in 2008, in the depth of the Great Recession.

Working Mainers continue to struggle in a stagnant state economy, while under Gov. Le- Page’s economic policies, Maine continues to limp behind the rest of the nation‘s economic recovery.

Compared to 2007, fewer Mainers have jobs, their paychecks have grown more slowly than inflation and the rollback of safety-net programs has left more people in poverty and prevented Mainers from realizing the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Mainers want state policies that blaze a path out of poverty, offer their children the opportunity to prosper and enable their communities to thrive again.

The governor’s administration, which will present a biennial budget in January for the Legislature’s consideration, has already made its position clear. And their priorities could not be further from the values that Maine voters supported – better jobs, better schools, better communities and better tax policies that oblige the wealthy to pay their fair share.

The Legislature should not hesitate to repudiate the administration’s failed trickle-down economics of tax cuts for the rich at the expense of our schools, the false savings promised by state workforce reductions and further attempts to undermine the voters’ will.

Instead, legislators should focus on the issues that matter to Mainers – ensuring that one in three workers in the state gets a raise, that the wealthiest Mainers pay their fair share to support our schools and that our roads and bridges are kept in good repair. Mainers want solutions that work.

Despite a divisive election, consensus is not hard to find. Whether they cast their ballot for Hillary Clinton or for Donald Trump, 93 percent of Maine voters supported a presidential candidate who promised to increase spending on our roads and bridges, to give workers access to paid family leave, promote college affordability and to support good-paying jobs. Maine legislators need to address all of these issues.

We have an opportunity to restore our state’s reputation for bipartisan solutions that work for everyone, and to live up to the state motto by leading the way for the rest of the nation. At polling stations across the state, hundreds of thousands of Mainers showed they are hungry for change, and voted for ballot initiatives that position Maine as a national leader in implementing policies that benefit working families. Legislators need to listen to the voice of Maine’s voters and act accordingly.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.