2013-01-18 / Community

Guest Column

Senator is off to running start in the Legislature
By Sen. Rebecca Millett

The 126th Maine Legislature officially began Jan. 8 and our work has begun in earnest. Since being sworn in Dec. 5, I have met with my colleagues in Augusta and with constituents and community leaders in our district.

Last week, Democratic leaders outlined our top priorities for the session. We are committed to strengthening our economy and growing our middle class by addressing the skills gap and strengthening our public schools and early childhood education. We will put more money in the pockets of Maine families and small businesses by reducing health care and energy costs, and we’re committed to investing in Maine’s future through research and development and Maine’s roadways.

Because of the skills gap, 4,000 jobs will be unfilled between now and 2018. Waiting lists for job-specific training programs such as nursing are a major cause of this issue. There is a great need for nurses across the state, and these are good paying jobs, yet we do not have the capacity to meet the demand. We have the jobs and workers; now we need to connect the two and ensure our workers have the necessary skills.

For the long-term we must support and fund public education and early childhood education. It is our responsibility to provide the next generation with the tools they need to be successful. As the Senate chairman of the education and cultural affairs committee, this will be a top focus of mine.

Maine families and small businesses alike are struggling to make ends meet, and the rising costs of energy and health care have made these tough economic times even more challenging. Solving our energy challenges will require short-term and longterm solutions, such as supporting energy efficiency and diversifying our energy resources. To reduce health care costs, we will implement better care management plans and place a greater emphasis on preventing and treating chronic illnesses.

Investing in research and development and maintaining our roads and bridges are key to attracting new business to Maine. Fixing our crumbling roads and bridges will put Mainers back to work today and investing in research and development will put us on a path for long-term economic development and job growth.

I will continue to update you here on my work in Augusta, and if you would like to receive my weekly email newsletters or share your concerns and ideas, you may contact me at senrebeccamillett@gmail.com or stop in during my office hours. I met with folks at Frosty’s in South Portland in early January and will be at the Local Buzz in Cape Elizabeth 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16. It is an honor to work for you and our community.

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