After the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee last night voted out along party lines legislation to implement the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, Governor Janet Mills issued the following statement today urging lawmakers to continue working to achieve the 2/3 bipartisan support necessary to implement the plan and its critical investments immediately:
“Last night, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee voted out legislation to implement the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan. I am grateful for their work on this important bill, which incorporated many weeks of research and drafting by my Administration to focus on the immediate need to rebuild our economy and improve the lives of working families after the financial shock of the pandemic.
“The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan – modeled on the advice of experts, backed by a wide coalition of organizations, and supported by funding from the American Rescue Plan – is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to support our people, strengthen our economy, and address the longstanding structural problems that have held our state back. It includes funding for child care and housing; for broadband expansion; for water infrastructure projects; for renewable energy; for economic recovery grants for small businesses; for agricultural and seafood processing; for improving our parks and campgrounds; and for subsidies to lower health care costs for businesses and their employees, among many other things.
“Sadly, although the parties agreed on 95 percent of the bill, the vote was along party lines, likely previewing a similar partisan vote on the floor of both the House and Senate. Without a strong, bipartisan vote from 2/3 of the Legislature, this important bill loses its emergency nature and, as a result, would not take effect for ninety days, postponing the investment of millions of dollars in workforce training, health insurance subsidies, child care infrastructure and other critical needs. This delay would have a substantial and serious negative effect on Maine people, on Maine businesses, and on our economic recovery. Every day that passes where this bill is not law is one more day that we aren’t putting these transformational investments to work for Maine people. If we allow three more months to pass simply because we couldn’t find consensus, then that could mean the difference between a business surviving or failing, between a parent being able to afford child care so they can go back to work or not, between expanding broadband to rural communities or not. The stakes are high. The implications are real.
“The Legislature has worked long and hard this session and has accomplished historic, bipartisan things, including 55 percent education funding, restoring full revenue sharing, improving health care, and rewarding working Maine people with $300 payments. In fact, they have worked too long and too hard to succumb to partisan division on what may be the most consequential bill of our lifetimes. I am asking both Democrats and Republicans to continue working, to compromise, and to reach consensus so that this bill may reach my desk with 2/3 support and we can put its critical investments to work for Maine people today – not three months from now. Our state, our people, and our economy depend on immediate action. The work of finding common ground, of negotiating divergent and strongly held viewpoints, of giving on some priorities to achieve others is often painstaking and fraught with difficulty and disappointment because nobody wins everything, and everybody loses something – but when both parties are acting in good faith, it is how good governance is done.”