Keeping our promises – Highlights from the 126th Legislature
When the Legislature began meeting in January, we laid out our goals for the session ahead. One of our top priorities was to improve our economy and put Mainers back to work. A strong workforce begins with a good education, so we remained committed to strengthening our public schools. We also wanted to take action to address energy costs for Maine homes and businesses. Finally, we wanted to increase access to affordable health care.
Despite the challenges we faced along the way, with the governor repeatedly standing in the way of progress for our state, there was a lot we accomplished. This month, I want to share our progress on each of the goals we set out to achieve.
We all want to get our economy moving again. We created the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future to focus exclusively on doing everything it takes to bring Maine’s economy out of recession. The committee’s work culminated in a first-of-its-kind workforce bill to increase job training in the skills businesses need, so that Mainers can find good-paying jobs in the changing economy. We also passed a bill to strengthen education in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), to prepare Maine workers for jobs in these cutting-edge industries.
We continued fighting for a strong public education system. Our budget restored cuts to education, provided an additional $35
million for education funding, and created a path to fulfill the state’s commitment to fund K-12 education at 55 percent. The budget also provides $300,000 for the Jobs for Maine Graduates program, and restores funding to Maine’s Head Start program, which helps ensure that our kids get the right start in life and also provides a safe place for them so that their parents can get back to work.
To reduce energy costs, we passed a comprehensive, bipartisan energy bill. The new law will increase energy efficiency efforts by fully funding Efficiency Maine, and will provide more resources for families and businesses to increase their energy efficiency and save money on their energy bills.
We also worked towards our goal of increasing health care access and lowering costs for Maine people by accepting the federal government’s deal to expand access to health care to nearly 70,000 Mainers. We all know that our healthcare system is too expensive, and too many Maine people live without health insurance. This is not right. Every family deserves access to a family doctor, and no one should have to choose between putting food on the table or paying for medicine. Accepting the deal would also save Maine $690 million over the next ten years, and create more than 3,000 jobs.
Despite our best efforts, the bill was vetoed by the governor, and not enough Republicans voted to override the veto. No one should be denied access to healthcare, and we will continue fighting for affordable healthcare next session.
As always, I am deeply honored and blessed to represent the great people of Senate District 14. I will keep working hard to represent you and fight for the values that make Maine a great place to live and work. Please feel free to call me in Augusta at 287-1515, at home in Rumford at 364-7666, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.