Last week, the Maine voters cast their ballot to elect Janet Mills as their next Governor, and the first female Governor of Maine. I wish her well in her new role.
I love Maine, and I have worked hard to leave the state in better shape than when I found it. My administration has been successful in doing so.
Over the past eight years, our administration has eliminated red tape, cut taxes, reformed welfare and created charter schools. We’ve improved Maine’s infrastructure, created new trade relationships and reformed health insurance to lower costs–to name just a few of our accomplishments.
In 2018, Mainers are experiencing strong, record-setting economic growth. Maine has a record-high number of employers, a record-high number of private-sector jobs, record-high revenues for the state, record-low unemployment and the fastest net-earnings growth in New England.
Our poverty rate has declined to the lowest it’s been since 2005, and we have the fewest number of children in poverty in the past 17 years. Maine’s economy is the best it has been in decades, and our people are benefitting.
This is the state and the economy that Governor-elect Mills will inherit upon her inauguration. I want to see this prosperity continue.
The rainy day fund is approaching $300 million. That money is the state’s safety net in an economic downturn or if an emergency befalls the state. If there is a decrease in revenues because of hard times, it helps avoid having to slash programs and use budget gimmicks to balance the books.
It will be very tempting to many new and returning legislators to spend this money. They will want to fund pet projects.
I urge the incoming Legislature and the Governor-elect to avoid giving in to temptation.
Governor-elect Mills has stated that she plans on expanding Medicaid on day one of her administration. I note two cautions. First, the state must have federal approval of the state plan amendment before expanding. Otherwise, the state is on the hook for 100 percent of the expansion costs–there won’t be any 90/10 match.
Second, the state must find a sustainable way of paying the bill. I have suggested the hospital tax, which not only is how many states have funded it, but hospitals will be reimbursed for a large part of the cost of that tax by the federal government. This is sustainable in the long term, and it protects our general fund and the rainy day fund.
If Janet Mills succeeds as Governor, all of Maine will be successful. But part of that success will require that the incoming officials maintain the fiscal sanity I brought to Augusta.