tv Maine State of the State Address CSPAN February 14, 2022 11:24pm-12:20am EST
thank you. president thank you, president jackson, chief justice, attorney general fry, auditor, distinguished members of the 130th legislature, distinguished mayors and honored guests. it's good to be back. [applause] tonight is the first time in two years we've been together in this chamber. i'm here to continue the story i share. a story about the promise of our states and the progress we have made it to reach our people's full potential as we emerge from the early days of january as the moon sheds light on a dramatic midwinter landscape.
to assess the state of the state they've endured a time likee noe other sending off a pervasive threat to our livelihoods we've never had it easy. never been able to take things for granted. we don't welcome tough times. our presence in this chamber is a sign of progress, of recovery. a step forward in our march
towards normalcy and stability especially from where we have been. in the pandemic with no experience with this novel virus, i like virtually every governor across the nation took steps to protect the health of people. following the best available science to protect lives. now with the development of vaccines, now available to nearly everyone, science delivered the lifesaving miracle we needed and with it, the responsibility to protect lives no longer belonging to me alone, it became then as it is now both a personal responsibility to protect yourself and a shared responsibility to protect us all. we have arrived at another inflection.
we've shown us that we are stronger than we ever imagined. last year's emergency measures no longer serve the purposes they once did, nor should they as science and trends evolve, the response evolves as well and today we focus not on telling people what they cannot do that we focus on telling people what they can and should do. we focus on preserving the most vital facets of our lives. our schools, or hospitals, or jobs. as the storm of the pandemic
indoors with peaks and valleys to come, my pledge to you is this. we will work day and night to make vaccines and tests accessible to all, to keep our children safe and their schools, to work in close partnership with our healthcare systems, ensuring critical care for all of those who needed and to keep businesses openp and thriving d the economy moving forward. we will continue to expect the unexpected and common sense, common courtesy and vigilance rightfully replace fear and anger as we protect ourselves from the known risks you take care that our individual actions do not jeopardize the health of others. and as the vaccine becomes available for our youngest children, as more people are fully vaccinated and obtain
greater protection with booster shots, we will continue to recommend the commonsense measures that keep our states safe adjusting to meet the changing circumstances. you can all do your part by getting vaccinated. more than 1 million of you have done so and to each of you, i am deeply grateful. i'm proud to report maine is one of the highly vaccinated states in the nation and despite being one of the oldest states, we have one of the lowliest death rates in the nation. we have succeeded better than any other state. [applause]
this however is cold comfort to those that lost their lives to this insidious virus. the more than 1,800 people fathers, mothers, grandparents, friends whose absence is felt painfully every day. tonight we also feel the loss of two good people who served so ably in this legislature and the friend to all, donna of augusta. may we bow our heads and a member of remembrance for those who lost their lives.
as we look across the state right now, we still see hospitals try to stay on top of the extraordinary pressure of the very ill mostly unvaccinated patients fighting for their breath and children resilient in the face of difficulty desperate for stability, socialization and education. we see parents persevering but searching for a break hoping not to get the call that the daycary care center has been closed because they know they can't afford to miss work. we see citizen school boards listening to students, teachers, parents and deliberating about the measures to keep kids in school while protecting everyone the virus. we see farmers, fishermen, loggers, haulers trying to keep up with of the swings and demand. the uncertainty of markets and offshore supplies and for the
lobster industry. the federal regulations over the gulf of maine. we see the economy making a comeback but withf difficulties while shops and manufacturers and service providers are anxiously trying to fill thousands of jobs. we see people struggling with exorbitant electrical bills and inflation at the pump, at the grocery store, paying more of their hard earned paycheck. we must work to address these challenges. but there are also things we cannot see is readily the show that our state is on the road to recovery. the economy like that of the rest of the nation is making a comeback. a key measure of economic growth has not only fully bounced back from the pandemic but it has surpassed the pre- pandemic
projections. indeed, from when i took office through the third quarter of last year, our gdp grew at the second fastest rate in new england and 14th fastest in the nation. and the unemployment rate, 4.7% is still too high has fallen by nearly half from a pandemic high of 9.1%. jobless rates have fallen to 3.8%. 4% in lewiston and auburn and 3.4%4% in portland. it's progress. only about 6,000 people are actually receiving unemployment benefits right now. a number that is comparable to the number before the pandemic. our auto building supply, lodging, retail, restaurant sales all were up this summer. the international experts are off and on track to be the best since 2012.
our tourism industry had a bad summer season. our state parks saw a record number of visitors more than 3.3 million last year alone with thousands more already looked for this year. maine's families are enjoying their state and people are coming here enjoying what we have to offer and contributing to our economy. thank you, commissioner beale and yourll staff, for being such good stewards of our public parks and campgrounds. [applause] the population is growing at the second highest rate in new england and we have the second highest rate of net migration in the nations. there is a change for you. we are encouraging new innovative businesses and
exciting partners like the roux institute and welcoming new businesses across the state, like the data and the tech company dynamic coming to lewiston maine. congratulations, mayor. [applause] our credit ratings have been reaffirmed even as other states were downgraded by credit rating agencies who cited our governance practices as signs of stability. than doubled under my administration to nearly $500 million. [applause] let me repeat.
half a billion dollars, the highest it's ever been. [applause] we've returned $371 million to the people in the businesses including sending those $285 checks to more than 500,000. we are reporting a record budget surplus of $822 million and this is thanks to the good fiscal management and to our careful allocation of federal and state pandemic relief including hundreds of millions of dollars and grant funding to keep the small businesses open and of
theiremployees on the job. and we've achieved all of this without raising any taxes. [applause] all of this is progress at the same time maine is not immune from the impact of the pandemic driven inflation. higher energy prices caused by the reliance on fossil fuels. a global pandemic has had a very
real and very clear impacts on thepa national economy and those impacts are felt here in maine. we delivered to the people of the resources they need to grapple with theseur rising coss as we rebuild a stronger, sustainable economy that is more resilient to the whims of the rest of the world. many of my friends on the other side of the aisle and the house budget leader have called for the return to people's direct checks. $411 million back from the people of maine. [applause]
by the direct checks to the people will amount to $500 a person and will be distributed to an estimated 800,000 taxpayers to help them offset added costs. we know with the largest impediment is to sustain growth. the workforce shortage. headlines like here are the jobs the employers struggle to fill. that headline is from november, 2015. some stores struggled and struggled to get employees.
july, 2018. what's next for thene labor shortage? the pandemic didn't help the workforce by any means. the department of labor estimates of 22,000 people no longer inpe the workforce, more than 15,000 of them likely retired teacher and consistent with the rest of the country. our workforce shortage is a problempr at a problem i inherited, but it is not one that i will leave to our grandchildren to solve. it will take hard work, not simplistic solutions. but we know what we need to do.
people are telling us they need childcare.e. they need housing. they need broadband. they need good healthcare and strong public schools for their kids. i agree. this is why we've adopted a comprehensive approach to childcare, broadband, housing and healthcare through the jobs and recovery plan. one is an adult with special needs, to our young men in college and two are just starting their academic career in kindergarten and pre-k.
if you're watching tonight, you better be in your pajamas getting ready for bed. they are hard-working parents like all juggling jobs, daycare, tuition, books, fuel and groceries. they ask every day what will tomorrow be like for my child. i want us to do everything we can for families all across the states to allow them to stay in maine and succeed. from starting new businesses, from moving to the rural communities and it deprives kids of important developmental care. that's why we are taking this issue head-on. we created the first-ever childcare plan for main that invests approximately $120 million in american rescue
funds to help the child care childcaresystem recover and impe childcare quality, accessibility and affordability over the long-term. [applause]m. with less funding we provided to hundredvi dollar monthly stipens to more than 6,000 childcare workers to encourage them to work in this profession and now we are investing another $25 million to federal funds to help renovate, expand and build new childcare facilities and expand early childhood education programs. but we also need to do more. the speaker proposed legislation to provide pay increases for childcare workers. i support this proposal.
[applause] to deliver on its my supplemental budget will include more than $12 million to increase pay for our childcare workers. [applause] the lack of available affordable housing is also a serious barrier to ending the workforce and entering the workforce and the chronicwo housing shortage neglected in the past has only gotten worse during the pandemic. one of the first things i did as governor, you will remember, was
to sign the $15 million senior housing 5 bond overwhelmingly approved by maine voters in 2015, but which was never released by the previous administration. now we have built more than 200 new housing units for low income seniors all of them now occupied or nearly complete and weatherized 100 more with a that bond. [applause] two years ago i asked you and the speakers bill to establish the affordable b housing tax credit. you did so and i was proud to sign into law the single largest state investment in housing history. [applause]
this summer we broke ground on the first major housing project under that law, and it is making a difference. under my jobs recovery plan, we are investing $50 million to increase the number of energy efficient affordable homes for working people. $10 million of that is going out the door right now and is intended to result in about 150 new affordable homes. this is progress. we must make home ownership and affordable rentals reachable for more people. it is both economic and a moral imperative. another thing keeping too many people from working especially in rural areas, the lack of
affordable broadband. i know you hear it everywhere from across the state. high-speed internet is no longer a luxury. it is a basic necessity as fundamental as electricity, heat and water. two years ago i asked you to support a 15 million-dollar bond to expand internet for the first time in more than a decade. you agreed and the voters approved and those funds have already brought high-speed internet to more than 11,000 homes and businesses all across maine. [applause] we then proposed and you and acted with bipartisan support a new entity charged with
achieving universal internet access in maine. the main connectivity authority. with this new authority up and running and with the support of american rescue funds, i pledge to you tonight that every person in maine who wants to connect to high-speed internet will be able to do so by 2024 just two short years from now. [applause] we will make a main one of the most competitive and desirable places to live, work and raise a family and stay connected to the world. reliable childcare, affordable housing, high-speed internet,
all of these things are key to people being able to enter and stay in the workforce and provide for their families. but we've got to also do more to help people get ready for work and careers to begin with and that starts with our youngest kids. that's's why when i took officei reinvigorated the children's cabinet neglectedne in previous years to accomplish two goals. one, to ensure that all children enter kindergarten prepared to succeed and to ensure that all kids are able to enter adult hood in good health with a good education and ready for a good paying job. beginning with pre-k, we are delivering on these plans. pre-kpr leno promotes child development, improves early literacy, math, social, emotional skills and bolsters student success. my administrations increased our investment in public pre-k
programs by $5.4 million resulting in 90 more pre-k classrooms across the state. [applause] and just last month we announced grants from the jobss and recovery plan to 14 school districts to greenville and in between to further expand pre-k to more than 500 children across maine, and there is more to come. [applause] i am also proud of the progress we've achieved in kindergarten through 12th grade. working with you, we've raised the minimum teacher salary to $40,000 and we delivered on one of our most fundamental
commitments for the first time in man's history, we met the long-standing commitment to fund 55%. [applause] [cheering] no longer will we underfund education in the state as past administrations have done. we will maintain the commitment to our students, teachers, municipalities, property taxpayers and to help us to do
so tonight, i propose creating an education stabilization fund capitalized with a $30 million from the general fund from that surplus to continue delivering on that promise to our kids, our schools, teachers, towns. it's the fiscally responsible thing and the morally right thing to do by our people. in other words, it's progress. we all know students can learn on an empty stomach. last year the legislature led by president jackson got rid of the distinction between a paid paidluncheon free lunch and redd lunch and they asked us to pick up the cost of the school meals once federal funding ended. i am pleased to announce that my supplemental budget will p incle money to fully fund universal free meals in our schools. [applause]
it's time to keep feeding our children good food, more and more of it, main ground, fish, farmed. to get more food into the schoolsfo and towns and to exted the growing season. i'm recommending we provide one-time funds to offer greenhouses to as many schools and communities as possible to promote community gardens and teach kids and families how to grow their own food. [applause] so, maine has placed a high priority on keeping classrooms
open and even so too many kids have lost the vital connections with other schools, their friends, their teachers, their academic path. children need structure. they needed to be in school. kids can also learn while doing and they can learn outside the walls of a classroom. i want to show kids the breath and depth and experience ofy te state, let them hike the trails of western maine. we were on a 4h camp, see the tilapia fish fertilizing gardens at the center in port clyde or in lisbon.s at the aquarium in the bay. forestry in the outdoor center. explore bird island, hurricane island and learn how oceans [inaudible] for the streams at baxter state
park. see the research done at the university of maine and the darling center, the labs in the gulf of maine research institute. so much to offer. education is changing in many ucnew and exciting ways and we should be at the forefront preparing our children, introducing them to the great outdoors and offering them hands-on experiences outside of the classroom that will spark new perspectives, and gender new friendships and deliver new skills. experiential learning will help kids reconnect while enjoying all that maine has to offer. so tonight i'm directing the commissioner of education if he's not serving lunch at the school cafeteria or substitute teaching today i'm asking her to develop a new collaborative using federal enrichment funds
to get our children outdoors this summer, expose them to lived experiences that will get them ready for life and careers. we have so much to offer here at every level. our kids can take courses at career and technical education centers where they can learn critical skills into the trades on the equipment which we have not funded for the first time in decades. they can take courses in computer science, and growing at a critical part of our economy. those courses should expand and they should be taught earlier. we are working on that and we believe that exposing young people to meaningful work while they are still in school can increase our workforce participation rates. that'sea why this summer we will expand the exploration program connecting high school students with aid work that puts them on a path to future careers.
we are making progress. [applause] and when they are ready our kids can attend one of the university's seven excellent campuses or one of the nationally recognized community colleges. this week we celebrate the university'szey achievement of r status as a leading research university. [applause] this well-deserved designation reflects years of hard work by university staff, students and researchers and it will globalize the university's reputation as a top flight top-flightresearch institution t
and keep the best and brightest in the state. congratulations. thank you for your work. [applause] now it is also our responsibility to ensure higher education is affordable. and i've got some ideas to tackle that. first, i am proposing funding in my supplemental budget to stave off any tuition hikes across the university of maine's system to keep university education affordable.ca secondly, thinking especially about all those young people whose aspirations have been most impacted by the pandemic, i am
proposing making two years of community college free. so to the high school classes of 2020 and 2023, if you enrolled full-time in a mainly community college this fall or next, the state of maine will cover every last dollar of your tuition. [applause] you can obtain a one year certificate or two year associates degree and graduate unburdened byy debt and ready to enter the workforce and if you are someone that's alreadydy started a two-year program, we've got your back. we will cover the last dollar of
your second year through so many good paying jobs in healthcare, engineering, the trade, construction, clean energy technology and so many other industries just waiting for you. as your governor, i want you to know the future is yours and we will help you and embrace it because that is progress. thank you for helping to make this happen. [applause] now, whatt about those that have already graduated and still have student debt? recent graduates carry an average of $33,000 in student loan debt. soment carry even more like the
nurse who told the radio station she owes more than $100,000. at that level of data prevents young people from starting a business, affording a mortgage, paying their bills in achieving their full potential. it's simply unacceptable. thankfully, the senator had his eyes on this problem for a while now. he's drafted legislation that will streamline the opportunity tax credits after so many years of changes that have complicated and undermined the goals of this program to attract and keep talented people here. this legislation, that received bipartisan support in the committee transform the program from an obscure bureaucratic tax benefit available to just a few into a strong student debt relief tool available to all. [applause]
that's why tonight i'm announcing that i will fund the opportunity tax consistent with the goals of this legislation. we will broaden and simplify the program eligibility criteria to those who graduated with student debt regardless of what type of degree they have or where they graduated or what type of work they do now. they will be eligible for up to $25,000 of debt relief over the course of their lifetime so long as they have a job and make maine their home. [applause]
with these changes, the opportunity of the tax credit will be the leading student debt relief program in the nation and a powerful tool for employers to draw people from all walks of life to work and live in the state of maine. that's progress. [applause] some of the people coming here maybe healthcare workers. it almost goes without saying that our healthcare system like those in the states governed by republicans and of those in states governed by democrats has been pushed to the very brink. oures healthcare system has long confronted a shortage of medical professionals. it is a problem that has grown worse, particularly as the pandemic has dragged on and as so many people, largely
unvaccinated have to be hospitalized and received critical care. but these increased demands never stopped our healthcare workers. all of them now vaccinated from holding the hands of the patients to ease their suffering despite their own exhaustion. just as it has not stopped our national guard members who courageously stepped up to fight thee pandemic leaving their families, jobs and communities to serve the people of maine. you all have our undying gratitude. you are all true heroes. [applause]
the healthcare system has been stretched just as the healthcare systems of the neighboring states including new hampshire have been stressed. but it is because of the virus, not because of the vaccine. our take away from this experience should not be to doubt the overwhelming efficacy of a vaccine that has protected those caring for us. the take away should be get vaccinated and let's strengthen the healthcare workforce in new and profound ways. [applause] to my job's plan, we've invested $21 million to train new healthcare workers and we've already started at northern maine, eastern, southern maine community colleges with more
forces starting soon in addition to the university's new nursing program. this is progress. and to bolster the workforce we've invested more than $600 million in state and federal funds to improve the rates for healthcare providers across the spectrum. and tonight i propose that we send another $50 million in state and federal funds to our hospitals and nursing homes to sustain them through these difficult times. [applause] no other administration in history has invested as much as
we have in our hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare providers. that is progress. and i have to say, thank god i say every day that we've expanded medicaid on day one of my administration. expanding [inaudible] [applause] thank god we've reinstated of the drugs for the elderly program, cut by the previous administration, and that we enjoyed coverage for pre-existing conditions and state law. then we reverse to the declining health insurance enrollment, covering 11,000 new people. and we are lowering the cost of healthcare for 5,000 small
businesses and their 29,000 employees. that is progress. but that cannot be the end of our efforts. the system of care for people as they grow older in maine is an adequate. it i is far past time to ensure people can live safely and with dignity as they age. tonight i'm announcing that ito will convene a silver cabinet, to mobilize our people and eliminate the silos across the state government and enhance coordination and communication against all to address long-term care issuesac and ensure that every person he age safely, affordably in a way that best serves their needs.
people work hard their entire lives and they deserve no less. [applause] they deserve it just as people deserve reliable childcare that they can count on in a place they can call home, a safe place. and internet that isn't dialogue. they deserve affordable healthcare that keeps them on. their feet, and a quality public education that sets them on a path to lifelong success. these are investments in people. our people. people deserve every ounce of hard-won progress that we've achieved in spite of the pandemic. more than this, they've earned the progress that is yetve to
come. we will make progress on the opioid epidemic, on improving the child welfare system, on combating climate change, bringing down the cost of electricity, curbing our reliance on fossil fuels, cutting energy costs and on addressing the devastating impact on the health and livelihood we will make that progress. [applause] we are making progress because of this legislature and because of 15 people in particular who were sitting in the gallery tonight. the 15 members of my cabinet with whom you have all worked closely and their staff have been by my side and the people of maine consistently with focus, fortitude, courage and
creativity through some of the most turbulent times in recent history, and i want to thank themem publicly tonight for everything they have done much of it unseen but all of it always to the end during benefit of the people of maine. jamie, mike, judy, pat, john, amanda, melanie, heather, randy, laura, you have my undying respect and gratitude. thank you. [applause] and doctor, you and the cabinet
have saved lives. [applause] [cheering] in my state of the state address two years ago, i borrowed a quote that is often attributed to sam rayburn. he said any fool can burn down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one. let's build that barn together. a solid shelter to weather every storm. and let's not argue about how many males are in my nail gun or yours or who didn't close the barn door or who will shovel the
roof next winter or well the very rich pay for the shingles? will portland developers want to put condos in the loft? will bless eagle build a nest [inaudible] [laughter] and if so will they considered an accessory dwelling? [laughter] will there be a tenant's union? [laughter] well john martin want to store cold potatoes and it? [laughter] will it have * link? look, seriously it's been a turbulenttu year. but not so turbulent that we can't work together on all these things and not so turbulent the site of mysterious [inaudible] doesn't take our breath away. the cold lobbying of the atlantic ocean off the coast of maine doesn't send us into
rhythmic dreams. that the power of the mountain doesn't cause us to gasp and bend any. that the beauty and breath of our state and goodness of our people doesn't inspire us all to be better leaders, to take the state to greater heights. our state is beautiful. our people are good. the state of our state is strong and it is growing stronger. tonight, we recommit the progress to recovering, to moving forward to normalcy, to building that bond can our state together, a safe and stable structure with rafters and a bridge beam with brackets and a roof that is pointed to the heavens. that is my mission and i ask you all to join me because progress
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