Unemployment Rate at 5.5% for July
Share of Mainers working still above national average
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage released a statement today about the 5.5% unemployment rate for July, which is down from 6.7% in July 2013 and is the lowest since August 2008.
Maine’s unemployment rate is far below the U.S. unemployment rate of 6.2 percent. The employment-to-population ratio—the share of Maine’s population that is employed and a better indicator of economic recovery—is 61.4%. July was the 82nd consecutive month Maine’s employment-to-population ratio was above the national average.
"Since we took office, almost 22,000 private-sector jobs have been created in Maine," said Governor LePage. "There are still plenty of jobs available, including almost 7,400 posted on the Maine Job Bank. Combined with our efforts to move individuals from welfare to work, there are more opportunities than ever for Mainers to get good-paying jobs that will improve the quality of life for them and their families." The number of private-sector jobs is up 8,400 from a year ago in July 2013. The number of government jobs is down 1,300.
State to Start Drug Testing on Convicted Felons
Governor Paul R. LePage announced Wednesday the State of Maine is moving forward with its plan to conduct drug tests of convicted drug felons who are applying for or receiving welfare benefits.
Over the last several months, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has focused on designing its drug-testing measures to ensure privacy and fairness, while reinforcing accountability and integrity in the program. The tests will be required of drug felons who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.
“Maine people expect their tax dollars to be spent supporting our most vulnerable citizens – children, the elderly and the disabled,” said Governor Paul LePage. “We must ensure that our tax dollars do not enable the continuation of a drug addiction. “TANF is a short-term benefit that assists families and children with the basic necessities. If someone tests positive for drugs, they are clearly putting their addiction ahead of their family’s needs. Being drug-free is a critical aspect of moving away from poverty and toward self-sufficiency. We must do all that we can to make ensure children’s needs are being met and that the TANF recipient has the best possible chance at economic independence.”
State of Maine Concludes Fiscal Year With Surplus
July 30, 2014
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage announced Wednesday that the state ended the fiscal year with a surplus, which brings total revenue reserves to more than $90 million.
Improved fiscal management and reliable revenue forecasting are contributing factors for the flow of excess money. There is now a surplus of $39.1 million and an excess General Fund balance of $9.8 million.
“When I came to Augusta in 2011, I found that our state’s reserves had been cleaned out by the previous administration,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “We immediately went to work to pay our long overdue welfare debt to Maine’s hospitals, introduce long-term stability to the State’s finances and increase the balance of the budget stabilization fund, which is also called the rainy day fund.”
Senate Republican Leader Michael Thibodeau Visits Waldo County Nursing Home
Says Recent Funding Increase Only a Short-Term Solution
BELFAST – Maine Senate Republican Leader Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo) today visited residents and employees of Harbor Hill Center in Belfast. In addition to discussing life at the nursing home, Senator Thibodeau also briefed them on recent state government efforts to find more funding for Maine nursing homes, some of which are in danger of closing due to low reimbursement rates for Medicaid patients.
Referring to Maine’s elderly residents who live in nursing homes, Senator Thibodeau said, “If we can’t take care of this population, there’s something wrong with our values.”
Governor Paul LePage last week announced the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) had identified savings that, combined with federal dollars, will provide more than $25 million in emergency funding for Maine nursing homes. The Governor and Republican legislative leaders have warned, however, that the funding is a one-time fix and Maine nursing homes will continue to struggle financially in years to come. Two Maine nursing homes, one in Pittsfield and the other in Lubec, recently announced plans to close due to financial problems.
Irving Fraunce, who is the Administrator of Harbor Hill Center, said lawmakers in Augusta need to look beyond the next election cycle and, “take a long-term view” of the situation. “This problem isn’t going away; it’s going to get worse,” Fraunce said.
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