AUGUSTA, MAINE — Garrett Martin, executive director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy, released the following statement in response to Gov. Janet Mills’ State of the Budget Address:
“Maine needs bold action to deliver a strong, equitable COVID recovery that repairs the cracks in our economic system that the pandemic has laid bare.
“Roughly 50,000 Mainers remain unemployed, while hunger, housing insecurity, and other forms of hardship are as rampant now as they have been at any point in the pandemic. A speedy recovery for those at the top has juiced topline economic indicators, but the reality on the ground for families with low and moderate incomes is still marked by tremendous uncertainty. Similarly, our schools and communities are staring down the likelihood of yet another budget cycle when they’re asked to make do with less than they need.
“Maine’s public health response has been a bright spot during this crisis. That’s the result of Gov. Mills’ smart investments in health care at the start of her term, when she began to reverse course on her predecessor’s disastrous cuts to public health infrastructure. Thanks to Gov. Mills’ leadership and foresight, Maine was in a better position to deal with COVID and protect Mainers when the pandemic struck.
“But public health was not the only area where Gov. Paul LePage left Maine ill-prepared for the future. LePage-era fiscal policy, which prioritized tax cuts for the wealthy and profitable corporations over investments in people and communities, is still on the books and continues to hobble our ability to act boldly and decisively to deliver a better future for all Mainers.
“The governor is right that we cannot cut our way to prosperity. That was the approach her predecessor took, and it failed. Until we roll back that legacy of austerity, we cannot achieve bold change for the future. We must roll back loopholes and tax cuts for the wealthiest households and businesses — many of which prospered during the pandemic — so that we can make good on our commitments to schools, communities, and struggling families and chart a path toward a future that’s better than the pre-COVID status quo.”