Charles Lawton: Answers to these 3 questions should guide Maine’s public policy agenda

December 2nd, 2017 by admin Leave a reply »

Maine is awash in unsettled public policy disputes – affordable housing, Medicaid expansion, education funding and tax reform, to mention but a few. Taken alone, none will ever be resolved. And none of these current policy disputes, or any others, can be solved without considering three questions: Who are we? Where are we? What do we do?

Virtually all of the hottest policy issues today are based on yesterday’s answers to these questions. But whatever resolution eventually passes muster with our voters, our legislators and whoever is elected governor in 2018, it will have to address tomorrow’s realities if it is to succeed. In short, we must today build solutions to tomorrow’s problems.

All of Maine will be transformed by the demographic tsunami we have only begun to experience. While the basic forces of demographic change will be the same in all regions of the state, their size, intensity and impact will vary widely from region to region. As a result, public policy responses that may be appropriate to one region may not apply to others. For that reason, it is important to enumerate the basic factors that will shape tomorrow’s answers to these questions so that they can be documented both for the state as a whole and for the state’s major regions.

These fundamental social metrics (for the state, a region, a county or an individual municipality) are:

Natural increase: The number of births minus the number of deaths in the state (or region or town).

Net migration: The

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