Maine Legislature Adjourns (for now)

Passes only items related to coronavirus response and other critical services

Hi, this is Kathleen Dillingham, the House Republican Leader with this week’s Republican Radio Address.

President Trump has declared a State of Emergency.

This after wisely convening a coronavirus task force back in January and acting quickly to secure our borders.

We are in the midst of an unprecedented national response to an international pandemic.

Governor Mills this week issued a Civil Emergency Proclamation for Maine.

Her administration has acted swiftly to respond to the President’s call for unity and the expert advice from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

We are facing a very serious situation that requires everyone to work together to exercise a responsible, calm and steadfast commitment to each other.

That is why the Maine State Legislature acted quickly this week to consider bills directly related to COVID-19 and critical state services.

To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, and protect those a risk, the Legislature acted only on what both parties agreed was an emergency.

We then adjourned Sine Die.

In Latin, Sine Die means “without day” and marks the end of the legislative session for now.

Other unfinished matters will be carried over until the Legislature reconvenes. 

While Republicans and Democrats have traditionally disagreed on what constitutes an “emergency” we worked very closely together and agreed on a $75 million Supplemental Budget, down from the $134 million proposed by the Governor. Prior to COVID-19, enhanced revenue projections meant the Legislature had close to $200 million dollars of taxpayer money to spend.

Both sides agreed that only a portion of that should be spent at this time to ensure the money needed to address our current situation, including:   

  • $1 million dollars to the CDC for public health nurses and COVID-19 response. Public Health Monies for the Maine CDC to address COVID-19
  • Money for the Health and Environmental Testing Lab
  • $14 million dollars in rate increases for DHHS direct care and behavioral health workers
  • A new team of Child Welfare caseworkers
  • All told, there is over $53 million dollars dedicated for Health and Human Services. This includes over $3.5 million for Section 21 and 29 wait lists for people with disabilities.
  • K-12 education, career and technical Education, community colleges and workforce development monies are also included to ensure our schools and communities can continue to budget for next year.
  • $10 million dollars for roads and bridges, along with a $105 million dollar bond proposal that Maine voters will consider in June. This is so that we can invest in our roads and ensure as COVID-19 fades, our economy can have an infusion of cash into the private sector.
  • A $15 million dollar broadband infrastructure proposal that will also be considered by voters this June. 

With continuing uncertainty regarding our economy and impact of COVID-19 on the state budget, $17 million is being added to the Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund.

That fund now stands at $240 million dollars.

House Republicans acknowledge the hard work the Governor and legislative Democrats have put in and thank them for working with Republicans in a bipartisan fashion to quickly reach agreement on what constitutes a true emergency at this time.  

The Supplemental Budget that the legislature passed addresses true priorities that government needs to fund.

  • Nursing homes and assisted living facilities,
  • direct care workers,
  • roads and bridges and
  • wait lists for people with disabilities.

It is unclear when the Legislature will reconvene to take up unfinished business.

When it does, it is likely that future revenue projections will be greatly reduced from where they were just a week ago.

In the meantime, we urge the public to follow the recommendations of our President, Governor and the CDC to help reduce the impact of COVID-19.

“Crisis doesn’t create character: it reveals it.”

And this the past week, I have seen people’s character revealed

I have seen friends, neighbors, local businesses stepping up and providing assistance to those in need.

I have seen free meals offered by restaurants to our elderly and our students, displaced by the unfolding events.

Neighbors helping neighbors. 

Like my cousin’s son Jackson picking up supplies and delivering to older folks in our family who have compromised health issues.

Teachers and administrators that have quickly put together online teaching and learning curriculum. And more than that, implemented procedures and stuffed backpacks to ensure children receive the food they need.

The list goes on and on as we all learn that our lives have been altered for the foreseeable future.

Seeing acts of concern, compassion and kindness strengthens my connection to what makes Maine special.

It is the Maine we know and love and why I am so proud to represent my state in this building.

In the coming days, as we face unprecedented challenges, I have no doubt

Mainers will rise to the occasion and we will get through this together.

This has been House Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.        

Thank you for listening.

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