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MERI grades legislators on whether they support Maine's business environment

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Click to download the MERI Report on 125th Legislature.

The Maine Economic Research Institute has released its report card on legislators who vote to improve Maine’s economy—and those who don’t.

“Roll Call 2011-2012: A Report on the 125th Maine State Legislature from an Economic Point of View,” grades legislators according to the votes they made on issues that affect Maine’s business environment.

Legislators such as Senator Justin Alfond (D-Cumberland) and Rep. Emily Cain (D-Orono) 33.61 scored poorly, earning them the grade of “very weak” supporters of Maine’s business environment. Alfond got a 24.13, while Cain scored a 33.61.

Any legislator with a score of 34 and below is considered by MERI to be “very weak” supporters of Maine’s business environment, while those who scored 35 to 54 are considered “weak supporters” of Maine’s economy.

Senator Cynthia Dill (D-Cumberland) scored 18.58, well below Alfond and Cain, making her a “very weak” supporter of Maine’s business environment in the MERI analysis.

Legislators who scored highly on the MERI report include Senator Richard Rosen (R-Hancock) with a 90.29 and Andre Cushing (R-Hampden) with a 93.61. Senator Jon Courtney (R-York) scored a 84.05.

Rosen and Cushing, along with any other legislators who scored 75 to 100, are considered by MERI to be “very strong” supporters of Maine’s economy. Legislators who scored 55 to 74 are considered “strong” supporters.

This is the introduction from the report by Peter Vigue, chair of the Maine Economic Research Institute’s Board of Directors:

“On the legislative front, 2011 and 2012 were encouraging years for Maine businesses large and small,” Vigue said. “We can reflect on the outcomes of the 125th Maine Legislature as one of proactive and pro-economic changes. And the Maine Economic Research Institute was there with the facts, giving the state’s business community a strong, audible voice in Augusta.

“Maine saw the largest tax cut in its history last year—tax cuts that were fair, sensible, and encouraging to job growth,” Vigue said. “From the passage of regulatory reform legislation to fully funding the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement (BETR) program, Maine is now on a more predictable path toward improving our state’s business climate.

“With another election cycle on the horizon, it is an important as ever that elected officials know where Maine’s employers stand on the issues critical to Maine’s economic success,” he said. “In turn, it is equally crucial that Maine business leaders know how their elected representatives vote on the issues that matter. That is why MERI continues to rate them the same way we have been for more than 10 years.

“Building on our 2010 organizational structure, MERI continues its affiliation with the Maine State Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with other business and industry trade groups in order to communicate our message to a broad audience. Maximizing on these partnerships, MERI is able to identify legislative proposals and effectively evaluate their potential impact on the business community. This organization will continue to rely upon this extensive network as we distribute our legislative score cards in an effort to educate employers about the voting records of their legislators.

“In a nonpartisan fashion, MERI works to hold legislators in Augusta accountable for their votes on the issues that affect you,” Vigue said. “With the sweeping changes that occurred in the 2010 elections, it is more important than ever that we remain steadfast to our core mission: ‘Improve Maine’s business environment by providing objective information to enhance economic policy making.’ MERI is the only economy-focused organization that tracks and promotes the voting record of the Maine Legislature, and we will continue to do so with your support.

“Like you, I am optimistic that the upcoming year will bring more prosperity to Maine businesses and families,” Vigue said.

The Maine Economic Research Institute (MERI) is a nonpartisan, independent, not-for-profit organization formed to conduct research, analysis, and reporting on economic issues. MERI’s methodology, a tested model operating in 23 states across the country-some for more than 25 years-is rooted in the basic business concepts of accountability and performance review. A particular focus for MERI is how state policies affect Maine’s economy.

Government affairs professionals representing Maine’s most respected business and industry trade groups—including Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Maine Merchants Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, Maine Restaurant Association, Maine Auto Dealers Association and Maine Aggregate Association—meet regularly during legislative session in order to identify legislative proposals that will impact the business community.

How does MERI get the final scores? The final rankings are based on a combination of recorded votes on selected bills, and a qualitative survey of government affairs professionals that represent Maine’s business community before the State Legislature. For more information, see www.me-ri.org.

About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the former editor of The Maine Wire and currently the executive producer of the Kirk Minihane Show. Follow him on Twitter @BigSteve207.

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