Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills.
Earlier this week, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee of the Maine Legislature voted on legislation to implement the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan.
This plan – modeled on the advice of experts and backed by a wide coalition of organizations and funded completely by the federal government’s American Rescue Plan – is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen our economy, expand broadband, broaden childcare and workforce training and address the longstanding structural problems that have held our state back in the past.
The bill also includes funding for housing; for water infrastructure projects; for renewable energy; for economic recovery grants for small businesses; for agricultural and seafood processing; for improvements to our parks and campgrounds; and for subsidies to lower health insurance costs for businesses and their employees, among many other things.
I am grateful for lawmakers’ 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.
Well sadly, at the time of this recording, although Republicans and Democrats agreed on more than 95 percent of the bill, the committee voted along party lines, which previews a similar partisan vote on the floor of the House and Senate.
But 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 will have a substantial and serious negative effect on Maine’s working families and businesses, and on our economic recovery. Every day that this bill is not law is one more day that we are not putting these major investments to work for Maine people.
If we allow three more months to pass simply because the Legislature couldn’t find consensus, then that could mean the difference between a business surviving or a business 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 measures — a budget that includes 55 percent for education funding at last, a budget that restores full revenue sharing and improves health care and rewards working people with $300 payments. They have worked too long and too hard to succumb to partisan division on what may be the most consequential bill of our lifetimes.
The work of finding common ground, of negotiating divergent and strongly held viewpoints, of giving in on some priorities to achieve others is often painstaking and fraught with difficulty and disappointment because you know, nobody wins everything, and everybody loses a little something – but when both parties are acting in good faith, that’s exactly how good governance is done.
I am asking both Democrats and Republicans to continue working, to compromise, come to the middle, 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.
So when you’re emailing or talking with you legislator, make sure they know how important it is to get a two thirds vote on the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan as soon as possible. They’re meeting Monday.
Hey this is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.