Hello, this is State Representative Abbie Griffin of Levant with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.
There has been some government movement since our last address two weeks ago.
At that time, we were still anticipating the COVID-19 worst case scenario.
For over 60 of Maine’s 1.3 million people, that happened.
Collectively, we mourn their passing and pray for their families and loved ones.
Mainers have risen to the occasion to limit the number of fatalities and learned important lessons on how to necessary health safety precautions to reduce risks going forward.
The question we find ourselves asking two months later is:
How long will Governor Mills, Speaker Gideon and President Jackson ignore the pleas of people they have been elected to represent?
We are relieved that the administration finally made some concessions on the arbitrary timelines and have since rolled out a rural reopen plan but even that is littered with guidelines created with little to no scientific basis.
Failure to adapt to current conditions is furthering division between our citizens rather than bringing them together. It appears government is choosing between those who have income or jobs that allow them to stay home and those who do not. Those out of work, out of money and even out of food, are increasingly at risk of even darker fates. Depression, despair, abuse, addiction and even suicide are silently replacing COVID-19 as the biggest threat to Maine.
The handful of people suspending our civil liberties have resources, time, and ultimately believe more government is the answer to every question or problem. However well intentioned they may be, they are increasingly oblivious to the pain and suffering now being endured by the growing number of Mainers who have no resources and are out of time.
The press doesn’t talk about this human component, focusing on daily numbers that incrementally increase, but lack scientific context. Does anyone seriously believe that as we increase our testing capacity, we will stop seeing daily increases in positive results? Of course we will.
However, little or no context is being provided for people to accurately determine the severity of where we are today, with all aspects of our health, safety and wellbeing factored in.
The administration has been asked about the basis of their data and for real-time numbers by municipality, information that is being shared in many other states, and they have continually denied this request. This data is public information and therefore should be shared with the public. Failure to do so gives the impression that this administration would rather govern by fear.
Daily we are told that this is our new-normal. It is not for government to create a standard of normal for its citizens in a free society.
It is time to regain perspective and move away from decisions made in fear. And this isn’t to say that we believe we are in the clear with concern to the virus or that anyone does not take the risks associated seriously, it means that society can still operate while taking the necessary health precautions based on proven scientific data.
It means we protect those most at risk and allow for those who still feel unsafe to choose to remain at home.
Public engagement will also be needed going forward when the full extent of the government mandated economic shutdown results in drastic budget shortfalls potentially as much as $1.2 billion.
Make no mistake this wasn’t a natural economic downturn is was a government mandated shutdown of the economy.
Already the leading Democrat on the Appropriations Committee is signaling a preference for tax increases over cutting government programs.
House Republicans do not believe that the relative size of state government should grow bigger as family budgets grow smaller. The more state government takes, the less Maine people have. Our small businesses that do survive cannot reopen in an environment where they have to give even more of the less they have left. If we are in this together then the state must also live without.
It is time for government leaders to focus on the health and well being of everyone. That means a healthy economy with a focus on the portion of our population that is truly at risk. The two are not mutually exclusive.
“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”
Mainers have signaled that ‘where we are’ is increasingly unwise and unacceptable.
House Republicans have done their best to amplify and call attention to the growing chorus of Mainers demanding answers, transparency and decisions based on science and rational public policy.
Continued public pressure is needed to safely and responsibly reopen Maine before nonsensical, arbitrary government rules turn Maine into a state where citizens are encouraged to call a hotline on their neighbors and creates even deeper divisions between the haves and the have-nots.
This has been State Representative Abbie Griffin with the Weekly Republican Radio Address. Thank you for listening.