Top Issues - The Challenge of Staying Competitive
When asked to identify the major challenges Maine faces in a study done for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Maine Development Foundation, Maine business people rated health insurance the number one challenge. Maine’s per capita health care spending is 24% higher than the national average. In 2004, Maine ranked second among states for per capita expenditures. Health care spending consumes 19.3% of our gross state product, compared to 13.3% nationally.
Maine businesses are increasingly concerned about government regulatory practices that unnecessarily raise the cost of doing business in Maine. We must bring the cost of doing business in Maine back to the national average in order to ensure that businesses can afford to invest in Maine.
Maine is still above average in its state and local taxes, with some of the highest property taxes in the country as a percentage of personal income. State revenues are highly volatile, rising and falling with the economic cycle. Additionally, high personal income tax and estate tax rates discourage businesses and retirees from locating in Maine.
Energy costs were rated second among businesses as a priority here in Maine. Our electric rates are 60% higher than the national average and the gap is growing.
Also a top-rated priority for Maine businesses is the cost of transportation. Because of our distance from markets and limited air and rail service, the cost of transportation for Maine businesses is high.
Raising productivity means raising our performance on many fronts, including training and educating current and future workers. Maine must improve its educational performance to compete in the global knowledge economy.
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