Maine Policy Institute on Monday sent to Governor Janet Mills a list of recommendations for reopening the state economy. The recommendations include allowing the governor’s Stay Healthy at Home order to expire on April 30 along with the State of Emergency on May 15. This would enable the state to adopt guidelines for reopening the economy and putting Mainers back to work.
As noted by the Press Herald over the weekend, the economic fallout from the coronavirus in Maine could be among the worst in the nation. This is because our state relies on the hospitality and service industries to accommodate tourists in the spring and summer months when out-of-staters flock to Maine to enjoy our state’s beautiful landscapes. An Oxford Economics analysis lists Maine’s economy as the most vulnerable to a low-touch economy where traffic in our bars, hotels and shops is limited by social distancing guidelines.
However, the priorities of protecting public health and restarting Maine’s economy are not mutually exclusive; Maine can do both, and it must if it wishes to restore the economic health of its citizens and mitigate the impacts of the impending budget crisis. Maine has been shut down for more than a month, and it’s clear to economists of all stripes that our state is heading for economic ruin.
The recommendations submitted by Maine Policy Institute outline general guidelines the state should follow in developing its reopening plan, as well as specific steps it can take to speed the economic recovery and provide meaningful relief for families. These include allowing businesses to reopen under social distancing guidelines, implementing a hiring freeze on all non-essential government employees, disbursing to families a portion of state per-pupil education spending, and directing department heads to identify potential cuts within their existing budgets.
The recommendations also call for state government to empower individuals and businesses to lead the charge, rather than government micromanaging different sectors of the economy and prolonging the economic recovery.
“I believe strongly that we can balance the need to protect public health while also ensuring that Maine’s economy is not destroyed in the process,” said Matthew Gagnon, chief executive officer of Maine Policy Institute. “These recommendations will go a long way toward reopening Maine safely and ensuring that the state can effectively rebound from this crisis.”
Maine Policy Institute has also created a petition on its website urging Governor Mills to take action to reopen Maine’s economy. Click here to sign the petition.