Stabilizing the economy, climate action strategies, and public health measures

23 July 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I want to share some updates on the Maine Climate Council, the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee, and the legislature’s prospects for returning for a special session to respond to our current economic emergency.

Climate Action

As I previously reported, in June the Climate Council’s six working

15 July 2020: Priorities to stabilize and support Maine’s economy

I want to offer this update from the state’s Economic Recovery Committee, on which I am appointed to serve by Speaker Gideon.

On July 2 the committee conveyed a letter to the Governor outlining our sense of the state’s most urgent priorities expressed these priorities within three themes:

  • Education support, with emphasis on guidance

Economic recovery committee urges school reopenings, broadband expansion

This article reports on the first ‘quick start’ recommendations emerging from the Economic Recovery Committee. My own shorter-term priorities within the committee are as follows:

  • Provide necessary means for safety modifications and testing to resume safe and reliable operations at schools and child care facilities.
  • With special focus on those associated with the hospitality

Leading the way

“…a roadmap for reopening that could demonstrate a potential alternative to the quarantine requirement and do a better job of protecting both public and economic health.”

“…Asked whether the sentinel testing system could also be applied to schools in the fall, MDI Hospital COO Chrissy Maguire said, “that’s really the vision we’re trying to get

Climate Council working group recommendations

Since January, the Maine Climate Council’s working groups have been assembling, refining, and prioritizing recommendations to present to the full Council this week. You can now read these recommended strategies here:

21 May 2020: Economic Recovery Committee gets underway

For 10 weeks now I’ve been sending you regular updates about the evolving COVID-19 situation in Maine. This week I’ve included information about the Governor’s revised reopening plan and resources to help you navigate the pandemic, but I also wanted to take some time to focus on non-coronavirus updates.

Below you’ll find a number of …

Maine Economic Recovery Committee begins mapping state’s post-pandemic economy

“Having studied our economy for the 200 years of our existence, Maine has faced incredible challenge before. …We’ve gone through one transformation after another. I have great hope we will find a path out of this. It won’t be easy. It will take a lot of hard work. And it will take every ounce of …

13 May 2020: Working together to overcome COVID-19 in Maine

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, and here in Maine we find ourselves in a complicated middle ground. As parts of our economy remain closed and as Mainers continue to stay home as much as possible, many families are experiencing financial hardship and there is a strain on our state’s fiscal health. Still, if we …

Update on an alternative protocol to the 14-day quarantine: 10 May 2020

Friends and Neighbors,

Because of your concerns related to a requirement that contemplates continuing the 14-day restriction on out-of-state visitors from public interactions as I outlined in my April 30 report, I wanted to respond with an update on the state’s pursuit of a more targeted, refined approach.

With COVID deaths currently at …

April 16, 2020: COVID-19 Update: Elections delayed and relief resources

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Another week has passed at home, and I know many of us are getting restless. None of us ever expected to be juggling homeschooling children while navigating remote work. None of us were prepared to stock our pantries for weeks and think of ways to entertain our loved ones at home. …

Letter to federal delegation requesting support for small businesses and sole proprietors

24 March 2020

Dear Senator Collins, Senator King, Representative Pingree, and Representative Golden:

We come to you as a delegation during this time of pandemic crisis to ask you to do everything within your power to help vital Maine small businesses remain viable. COVID-19 is not only rampaging through our healthcare system, it is ravaging …

Legislature responds quickly to civil emergency

  • In rapid sequence, Legislature approves $76 million budget package geared toward pandemic, Press Herald, March 18, 2020
  • As a direct result of bipartisan collaboration with the Governor’s staff over the last week, an extraordinary amount of legislative work was moved and enacted yesterday.

    It has been a hectic week and a half of essential …

    Responding to civil emergency

    Over the weekend, the Governor’s people worked tirelessly with us in Legislature to gain bipartisan support for appropriations and emergency policy which will aid individuals, small businesses, and health care providers facing great challenges and uncertainty.

    Today we continue. Now is the time for Maine to pull together.

    Seeking a grand bargain on infrastructure

    I remain open using Maine’s General Fund appropriations for roads – but only as a part of a plan which generates sustainable funding, drives greater efficiency, and reduces emissions.

    Funding proposed for K-12 education in 2020-2021

    Governor’s FY21 Supplemental Education Budget Proposal:

    • For FY21, the EPS education allocation is proposed to increase from $2.292 billion to $2.369 billion –an increase of $77 million.
    • Major components of the increase:
      • $37M (2.5%) increase in basic operating allocation. This is essentially just the ordinary inflation of annual costs, largely from salaries and also

    Baseline report on emissions reductions and climate effects in Maine

    Yesterday at the Augusta Civic Center, my working group reported to the Climate Council on the current effects of climate change in Maine in these areas:

    • Climate and terrestrial ecosystems
    • Marine systems and sea level rise
    • Forested lands
    • Agriculture and food systems
    • Human health
    • Economic activity

    I was privileged to work with a great group …

    Maine is on track to meet ambitious goals for emissions reductions

    ce: Maine DEP: Eighth Biennial Report on Progress Toward Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals

    But the easiest reductions have been realized.

    To achieve the state’s ten-year and thirty-year goals, transportation and heating must be powered by clean energy.…

    Maine has decoupled economy from emissions

    Source: Maine DEP: Eighth Biennial Report on Progress Toward Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals

    Prosperity no longer correlates to consumption of fossil fuels.

    Other states are doing this too — but Maine leads in this area.

    Progress report on expanding renewable energy generation in Maine

    Mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change, and increasing renewable energy generation within the state, are priorities of Governor Mills’ Administration. Working together with the Legislature, Maine has made significant progress moving forward on these issues. Reducing the State’s dependence on fossil fuels and transitioning to a more diverse portfolio of clean energy

    “Partisan posturing and skinny mix won’t fix the roads. Creative ideas will.”

    “…I’m not opposed to using some general fund dollars to improve our infrastructure, boost our economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

    In her State of the State address, Governor Mills challenged the legislature to solve the state’s transportation funding gap.

    Joining that challenge, I welcome discussion of any new transportation funding models which incentivize more …

    “…I’m not opposed to using some general fund dollars to improve our infrastructure, boost our economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

    In her State of the State address, Governor Mills challenged the legislature to solve the state’s transportation funding gap.

    Joining that challenge, I welcome discussion of any new transportation funding models which incentivize more …

    Electric school buses to debut on MDI

    In a competition for money available from the Volkswagen settlement, in which the carmaker agreed to pay $14.7 billion nationally toward pollution mitigation to settle an emissions-cheating scandal, Mount Desert Island High School won $280,000 to offset most of the cost of a new electric bus.

    Thirty Year Transition Period

    Transitioning to a zero-carbon energy system essentially requires displacing current expenditures on fossil fuels with capital spending on new renewable energy generation and distribution.

    A presentation given yesterday by economist Richard Silkman to the Maine Climate Council’s Energy Working Group, shows how this transition can be accomplished by 2050 within Maine’s current energy spending …

    Governor Mills Unveils Ten Year Strategic Economic Development Plan Focused on Promoting Innovation & Attracting Talent

    Keying all the way back to the initiative for this that the legislature included in the state budget, this plan has been well stewarded by Commissioner Johnson in partnership with an excellent group of dedicated individuals from business and academic institutions.

    With the upcoming session in January, I am …

    Maine Projected Revenues Up By $75 Million Through The Rest Of The Two Year Budget

    Continuing evidence that state spending in Maine remains at responsible levels and that the two-year budget that we enacted in June was prudent.

    The table and graph above shows how state spending has decreased over the past 20 years as a percentage of personal income. (Personal income correlates closely with the state’s Gross Domestic Product …

    Maine is about to release its first 10-year economic plan. Here’s what to expect.

    As a member of Maine’s Economic Growth Council, I am looking forward to this report and eager to support this plan in the upcoming legislative session.

    I worked to ensure that the state budget included language giving specific direction to the development of this plan.