- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Top Maine Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday their policy focus this session will be on workforce development, job training, college affordability and attracting young people to the state.

Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond said lawmakers must work together in the divided Legislature to continue restoring the jobs that were lost during the Great Recession.

“It seems that the American dream is getting farther and farther away from what it was for our parents’ and our grandparents’ generation,” Alfond said.

Democrats plan to meet with businesses in communities across Maine to discuss growing jobs and developing public-private partnerships, Eves said.

House Republican Leader Ken Fredette said his caucus is ready to work with Democrats on important issues, like lowering energy costs, lowering the tax burden and continuing to move people off of welfare.

“Now that the campaigns are over, Republicans look to Democrats to show their sincerity to working in a bipartisan fashion with their votes, not just their rhetoric,” Fredette said.

The Legislature’s session is underway, but much of the real work hasn’t started yet.

Lawmakers got their first look at Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s $6.3 billion budget on Friday. Meanwhile, the House and Senate have been busy referencing dozens of bills to committees, where the proposals will be vetted before they are sent back to the chamber floors.

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