Gov. Mills says Maine’s economy strong, proposes new investments in State Address

Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 11:42 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Governor Mills reiterated throughout her State of the Budget Address Tuesday that she believes the state’s economic position is strong, but also addressed areas of potential improvement.

The Governor began with the numbers - reporting that Maine finished the fiscal year in the black, with a surplus that enabled heating relief checks that are in the mail.

Mills said that a nonpartisan review indicates Maine’s revenues are up $10.5 billion the last two years.

Although Mills said the unemployment rate has improved, she noted there is still a worker shortage and a possible national recession incoming - something she says will only be combated locally by continued investment in Mainers.

“These critical investments are helping tens of thousands of people acquire skills and find good-paying careers in healthcare, in the trades, in teaching, and in paid apprenticeships for all sorts of employers so that people with skills may quickly enter and remain in our workforce,” Mills said.

The Governor also unveiled new, multi-million-dollar proposals for investments in education, housing, infrastructure and clean energy.

”By accelerating our pace with 100 percent clean energy, we will reduce costs for Maine people, create new jobs and career opportunities that strengthen our economy and protect us from the ravages of climate change,” Mills said. “It’s our communities that are on the front lines of this battle. We have to make our communities more resilient to the impacts of storms like these.”

The Legislature’s Republican leadership followed Mills’ speech with a prerecorded message, criticizing excessive spending.

“This spending bill is what’s wrong with government,” Trey Stewart (R-Aroostook) said. “It puts government first, and taxpayers last.”

“The burden on Maine families is real,” Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) said. “The 165% increase in electricity costs is real. $6 for a dozen eggs is real. Inflation is real. But what’s unreal to me is that this budget ignores that reality.”

Republican leadership said there are some funding measures they support in the budget, including transportation, infrastructure and investments in the elderly.