Submitted by Rep. Kathleen Dillingham (R-Oxford), House Republican Leader,
and Rep. Joel R. Stetkis (R-Canaan), Assistant Republican Leader
Two years ago, in IMPACT, I highlighted how Republican pro-growth policies had transformed the Maine economy and created record-setting economic growth. Governor Paul R. LePage inherited an $800 million shortfall and turned it into a healthy surplus for incoming Governor Janet Mills to inherit. I asserted, “Republican policies lowered taxes, created jobs, brought record low unemployment, generated higher wages and increased government revenue.” House Republicans also expressed concern that special interest groups and their allies would seek to spend most, if not all, of that surplus.
Maine’s state budget then increased by nearly one billion dollars (11%) and not enough “Rainy Day Fund” monies were set aside in case there was an economic downturn or emergency.
In 2021, the landscape and our way of life is vastly different.
COVID-19 and the subsequent national and state emergency declarations beginning in March of 2020 caused both an emergency and an economic downturn. The pandemic has fundamentally changed our way of life for the immediate and foreseeable futures.
Legislators’ emails and profiles can be viewed online at https://legislature.maine.gov.
Contact the House Republicans’ Office
2 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0002
Phone: (207) 287-1440
The question for us now is how can we recover our Maine way of life as safely and quickly as possible, without further damage?
For House Republicans, the first order of business is to restore the proper functioning of government, co-equal branches of government. It has now been almost a year without meaningful legislative involvement in emergency order decisions made by the executive branch. Countless unilateral decisions have been made affecting every aspect of people’s lives.
This is not and should not be a partisan issue. There should be shared decision-making between the executive branch and the people’s representatives from both political parties. Anything less, creates unnecessary societal divisions and undermines important decisions state government needs to make during an emergency.
House Republicans will continue to press for meaningful legislative and public involvement this session on matters that affect their everyday lives and livelihoods.
We will continue our open, thoughtful and responsible approach to consideration of public policy proposals. This is especially true in how we express disagreements on issues like state spending, tax policy and government expansion and overreach.
Most recently, Republicans on the Tax Committee moved for full conformity with federal Paycheck Protection Program benefits aimed at helping businesses survive and recover from the shortfall and jobs losses experienced during the pandemic.
Now is not the time to take from employers and the Maine economy. Maine employers and their employees will lead us in the triumph over the virus and the recovery that follows.
House Republicans will continue to encourage the Governor and legislative Democrats to support full conformity and Maine commerce over further government expansion.
In general, there is great concern that the situation created by the pandemic has resulted in a great imbalance between government and private sectors. Much has been lost.
The answer is not more government spending and programs at the expense of the men and women entrepreneurs who can lead us out of the stalled economy and into the future. Government can play a supportive role, but it is not the answer. We need to thoughtfully, and safely return the power temporarily ceded to the government back to the people.
House Republicans are willing partners in seeking to restore the proper balance between the public and private sectors that will lead us to a strong economy that benefits everyone.