AUGUSTA, Maine — Garrett Martin, executive director of Maine Center for Economic Policy, released the following statement in response to the Legislature’s coronavirus relief efforts on Tuesday:
“A robust public policy response is critical in this extraordinary moment. The additional funding in the supplemental budget for the Maine CDC will help bolster the state’s response to the pandemic, and rate increases for direct-care workers will help improve economic security for some of
the workers on the front lines of our health care system. Additional legislation enacted today provides for continuity of services in municipalities and schools, and protects workers from sudden loss of income by expanding unemployment benefits for those who lose hours as a result of the coronavirus.
“These actions by the Legislature, among others, are solid steps forward and build on action already taken by the Mills administration to address this crisis.
“We know this is the beginning, not the end, of the needed response. Maine CDC expects community transmission to take place across the state, with additional diagnoses of COVID-19 and potential strains on our health care system. The many Mainers who have only a tenuous foothold in our economy stand to be knocked off-balance by this crisis. This pandemic has exposed the limitations of our system, in which health care is not universally accessible and affordable, many workers lack paid leave, and many families cannot afford a $400 emergency expense — let alone a sudden loss of all income.
“In the coming days, weeks, and months, as the coronavirus spreads and the economic fallout continues, federal and state policymakers will continually be called on to meet the moment. Relief efforts should continue to focus on public investments in our health care system, including free COVID-19 testing and treatment; direct relief for families and small businesses; guaranteed paid leave to help facilitate social distancing and sick workers staying home; and greater access to food assistance and other forms of family support. Many of these efforts are already under consideration.
“Mainers all have a responsibility to limit the spread of this pandemic and limit the damage it will cause. MECEP is committed to identifying and supporting policy solutions to protect all Maine families.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 17, 2020