Gubernatorial Candidate Shawn Moody On The Workforce Development, Maine’s Opioid Crisis

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Republican Shawn Moody is one of four candidates to succeed Gov. Paul LePage, who’s term limited after eight years. Maine Calling Host Jennifer Rooks asked Moody about what, if anything, should be done about the partisan divide in our state.

This is an excerpt of “Maine Calling” from Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018. To listen to Shawn Moody’s full appearance, click here.

Moody: One of the root causes of this, I believe, is the citizens referendum process. Now we’ve got three equal branches of government. The legislative branch is very important to make laws have a public hearing process that vet these things make sure they’re constitutional, and the citizens referendum is basically bypassing the Legislature. So I believe we need citizens referendum reform that would give a better representation of rural areas of our state and make sure that these really difficult, contentious laws basically is what they are, are properly vetted, have the public hearings that are warranted, have an economic study in terms of the tax impacts and make sure they’re constitutional.

Rooks: Do you support the plan to expand Medicaid? If not, what would you put in its place? If so how would you pay for it?

In this May 5, 2018, file photo, gubernatorial candidate Shawn Moody speaks at the Republican Convention in Augusta, Maine.
Credit Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Moody: Medicaid expansion is a law that’s been settled. Now we have to find a way to get the Legislature together. I recently met with the CEOs of the major hospitals in the state and they agreed to come to the table to discuss how we’re going to fund this responsibly and sustainably. That’s going to be a top priority.

Rooks: What would you do to address Maine’s workforce shortage?

Moody: This is where I think you can draw a real contrast between myself and the other candidates. I have 40 years of executive experience in the private sector. So we started creating a workforce development program called Grow Our Own 15 years ago because we knew the biggest challenge to growing our company was going to be hiring skilled and trained people. And two things I would bring as the next governor. No. 1, we’ve got to reform vocational and career tech ed programs here in the state. We’ve really, I think, turned our back on the blue collar trades in the state. And these are great paying jobs, $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 a year. And you can get through programs, training programs, with little or no student debt. The other important issue in terms of workforce is we need to go out and recruit our former Mainers that left in search of opportunity seven or eight years ago when the economy — we had literally double digit unemployment here in the state. Now we’re at full employment. So we’ll create a strategic marketing plan to go out and recruit former Mainers that have left the state and incentivize them to bring their families, bring the talent, bring the capital back to Maine and invest. Another avenue of increasing our young healthy population is we have 30 million tourists in Maine. If we could just hang onto 1 percent of those 30 million tourists, that’s 30,000 individuals that love our state, that’s why they come here. The last component we need for workforce is our immigrant population. We need to make sure that our immigrants have a pathway to employment.

Rooks: As governor what would you do to address Maine’s opioid crisis?

Moody: I think we need a multifaceted approach. Enforcement has got to be resourced in a way to combat criminal organizations that come into our state targeting our most vulnerable. The second thing that we’ve gotta really focus on is treatment. I feel that our recovery community has got to have a matrix of outcomes that they want to generate as part of their work so we can share the best practices across the state recovery units so that we can scale them up, the programs that are really working well. And we’re going to have to eliminate the programs not working at all. Final component is education.

This interview has been edited for clarity.