Commemorating a new day, at the beginning of a new year and a new decade, I stood the other day on a hilltop of a popular hiking spot and I surveyed the Atlantic Ocean to the east — I could almost see the Appalachian Trail far to the west and the lights of the cities to the south — and I thought about the past and the future of our great state.
You know, taking stock of the past at the turn of the year often lets us see the future more clearly.
Good morning, I am Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.
I recall vividly, a year ago, standing before the people of Maine and becoming your 75th Governor. I talked then about our history, about “the unsung” people of Maine as poet Wes McNair called them, and about health care, the opioid epidemic, climate change, education and the economy.
That same week, by executive order, Maine expanded Medicaid. Now, more than 56,000 people have accessed life-saving health care coverage.
Then with the passage of LD 1, we made sure that Maine people would not lose their health insurance due to pre-existing conditions and that their families would have necessary mental health, pediatric care, substance abuse treatment and the like. And we began the hard work of reducing health insurance costs for small businesses and self-employed individuals.
We commenced a battle to undo the ravages of the terrible opioid epidemic, providing life-saving naloxone across the state, creating more recovery centers, providing medication assisted treatment, beefing up prevention efforts and training dozens of recovery coaches to turn people’s lives around.
We issued the long-delayed voter-approved housing bonds to build 200 new homes and weatherize another 100 for seniors.
We revived the Children’s Cabinet and the public health nursing program, we hired dozens of child protection workers, beefed up prenatal care and commenced a Safe Sleep campaign to prevent the needless deaths of so many infants.
In June I signed a budget that had broad bipartisan support in the legislature — one that was negotiated and debated with civility and collaboration. That budget provided property tax relief — sent money back to the taxpayers — and it invested another $115 million in pre-K-12 public education and adult ed and it set us on the path to a $40,000 minimum teacher salary.
Working with the legislature, we enacted significant measures to tackle the high cost of prescription drugs. We passed groundbreaking legislation to require dangerous people to relinquish their firearms and we created incentives for residential and community solar projects, for offshore wind, for heat pumps and for the purchase of electric vehicles and charging stations through nontax dollars.
We created the bipartisan Maine Climate Council and Maine joined the US Climate Alliance.
In September I stood before the United Nations and represented you and told the delegates of 193 countries about the things our state is doing to combat climate change.
In November we announced a ten-year economic development plan — the first in decades — that’ll stimulate growth and personal income and workforce availability in the coming years, with results that are concrete and measurable.
So today I want to give thanks to the thousands of people across Maine who offered their help — citizens, businesses and legislators from every corner of the state — who gave us their suggestions about the economy, health care, public safety, taxation, climate change and children’s issues; who told us they want to see the state move forward with a civil tone and in a spirit of cooperation to become a place of innovation and excellence.
I especially thank the fifteen people who stepped up to serve in the new cabinet — including three people who served in the previous administration, four veterans, eight women and seven men. Perhaps the most qualified cabinet in recent history.
A year ago, I invited the people of Maine to “rise before the dawn — like the new mist over the Sandy River — and seek adventure, with hope in our hearts and love in our soul for the brand-new day.”
Today, in this new year, a year later, in our bicentennial year, in a brand-new decade, I want to thank you for the privilege of being your Governor, and I invite the people of Maine again to join me in an adventure of change, progress and prosperity.
This is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening and I wish each of you the healthiest, safest and happiest year ahead.