Greetings, this is Rich Cebra, State Representative from Naples.
The last time I gave the Republican Radio Address response was December 18, 2010. Governor John Baldacci was days away from leaving office and a new Governor, Paul LePage was about to be sworn in.
Maine voters had also elected Republican majorities to both the House and Senate for the first time in nearly 50 years.
Today Maine has a new Governor, Janet Mills, and she begins her term with large Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.
I said in 2010 that the people of Maine, “want action on jobs and the state’s economy. For too long, we have watched as our young people leave here because they see greater career opportunities in other states. For too long, we have seen jobs disappear and more and more people slide into welfare dependency.”
We were facing unfunded liabilities, budget shortfalls, unpaid bills, and a depleted rainy day fund.
What a difference 8 years can make. From that radio address to this under Republican leadership Maine is currently experiencing record-setting economic growth. The $800 million budget shortfall inherited from Democrats in 2011 is now a healthy budget surplus.
Medicaid had a biennial budget deficit of more than $200 million, and our state owed the hospitals $750 million. Today, Medicaid is on sustainable financial footing; it has not run a shortfall in years, and the hospitals have been repaid in full nearly a $1 billion turnaround.
Our Rainy Day fund has a record level balance of $272.9 million equal to 8% of
General Fund expenditures, a ratio better than the average among AAA credit-rated states.
The fiscal policies pursued by Governor LePage and Republicans in the Legislature created record-high private sector jobs, record low unemployment, a record number of employers and record-high revenues. Wages are rising faster than any other state in New England over the last four years.
We have even seen our population grow. Maine ranked 16th for net in-migration
among states in 2017 with 12-of-16 Maine counties growing that year.
Our state work force is more efficient and they have received cost of living increases and no longer have to take days off without pay.
Welfare reforms doubled the people going to work with a 1,000% increase in their wages while those on TANF with previous work records seeing wage increase of 237%.
In short the state Governor Mills is inheriting is 180 degrees from the one her colleagues left for Republicans eight years ago.
Governor Mills is talking about a new direction.
We are again discussing expanding Medicaid without a plan to pay for it. The Governor has told the federal government she will use general funds to expand and then tells the media she will use tobacco settlement money. She wants to either use the surplus general fund dollars or raid the settlement money in the fund for healthy Maine. She talked about sustainability yet plans to expand first and find a way to pay for it later.
If this is the new direction it seems as though she simply has turned around and headed back to where we were eight years ago.
We welcome Governor Mills and look forward to working with her as she governs. We will work together for our common vision of a strong Maine one with continued economic growth, rising wages, and a government living within its means so that Mainers can keep the money they work hard to earn. We will fight together the opioid crisis that is robbing our people of opportunity and life itself. We will keep the promise of Maine’s future for our children and those wanting to come here. But we have no interest in going back to where we were eight years ago. We want to welcome people home but we will fight for them to have a home worth coming too.
This Representative Rich Cebra from Naples, thank you for listening.