'Measures of Growth' offers perspective on Maine's concerns
March 9th, 2011
Maine’s economic worries get plenty of attention, but the latest “Measures of Growth” report from the Maine Economic Growth Council, continues to report on progress as well as problems.
The council, established in 1978 with a mandate to promote Maine’s economy, has presented its latest report card to legislators. Once again it has listed both Red Flags – matters needing urgent attention – and a few Gold Stars.
The report’s data helps put issues in perspective. With 16 previous reports behind it, the latest Measures for Growth is able to highlight both progress and backsliding in Maine’s improvement efforts.
For instance, a boom in international exports – especially forest products – was recognized with one of this year’s two Gold Stars. The other Gold Star recognized the notable success of land conservation efforts over the last 10 years, resulting in 1.8 million acres of land conserved for public use.
There were five Red Flags, on concerns relating to health, education, research investment, health care costs and the cost of doing business in Maine.
Although flagged in this report, Maine’s fourth grade reading scores reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress were better than average. On the other hand, it’s certainly bad news that Maine’s proportion of overweight and obese adults (64.2 percent) recently ticked above the national average.
The most recent figures show the cost of doing business rising in Maine. State and local government get some credit for lowering the relative tax burden, but higher energy and health care costs have more than offset those gains.
The report provides perspectives on many other important budget and policy matters. It is sure to be cited in the arguments that lie ahead. The Maine Economic Growth Council has done a good job of laying out essential data without partisanship, providing a good resource for future political debate.