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Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future to focus on “skills gap”

AUGUSTA – House Republican leadership on Wednesday joined Democratic and Senate Republican leadership in announcing the names of the 15 members to be appointed to the Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future.  The committee will be charged with proposing legislation to close the “skills gap” that exists in the job marketplace, whereby employers often cannot find workers with the skills they need to fill available jobs.

House Republican members on the committee include Reps. Paul Bennett (R-Kennebunk), Peter Johnson (R-Greenville), Joyce Maker (R-Calais), and Jeff Timberlake (R-Turner).

“I look forward to seeing the findings of the Workforce Committee because training Maine youth and workers for the jobs of the future is vital to building a strong economy,” said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport).

Committee member Rep. Joyce Maker (R-Calais) also serves on the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.  “I hope this new committee provides an opportunity to shake up the educational status quo and really get students and employers talking about how best to move Maine’s economy forward,” said Maker.

Republican leaders also stated that while the newly formed workforce committee is a needed solution to one of Maine’s long-term economic weaknesses, we must boost our economy in the short term by passing Governor LePage’s hospital debt repayment plan.

“The Governor’s proposal is a smart, fiscally-responsible solution for returning capital to a high-growth industry in Maine so that hiring and expansion can begin right now,” said Rep. Fredette.

“While I support this new committee and welcome its ideas, Mainers need jobs right now, and the Governor’s plan is the only plan I’ve seen so far this year to provide them,” said Assistant House Republican Leader Alexander Willette (R-Mapleton).  “Just as we joined Democrats in forming the workforce committee, we hope Democrats will join us in paying off Maine’s debt to some of its largest employers.”

Rep. Fredette added that the longer it takes the Legislature to pass an estimated $115 million supplemental budget, the more uncertainty would be left on many Maine medical providers, nonprofits, and other businesses.  “That uncertainty is not good for Maine’s economy and we hope to be able to get a budget passed by mid-February,” concluded Fredette.

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