Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills, and thank you for listening.
Well, this weekend, we close the books on another year – and what a year it’s been. This Sunday, people across Maine and across the world will welcome the arrival of 2023.
But before that famous Times Square Ball, and the Kennebunk Wild Blueberry, and the Bangor Beach Ball drop to ring-in the new year, it’s worth reflecting on all that we’ve accomplished together and what we’ve seen this past year.
After two long, difficult, and uncertain years, Maine people largely returned to a much-deserved sense of normalcy following the worst days of the pandemic and the Omicron surge a year ago.
Our state has continued to welcome tourists back in big numbers and we became the new home for thousands of families who recognized that Maine is the best place in the nation to live, work, and raise a family.
Our economy has continued to recover, with low unemployment, more jobs than before the pandemic, and one of the highest rates of economic growth among the 50 states. That’s all great news.
This year was not without challenges either, as global inflation continued to make the price of everything – everyday goods and services – more expensive.
To help, I proposed — and Republicans, Democrats, and Independents came together to enact – the strongest inflation relief measure in the nation, sending $850 checks directly to Maine people to deal with these increased costs.
And with the winter upon us, I’m also hoping that when the Legislature returns next week, they will pass my Winter Energy Relief Plan, to send more direct financial assistance to Maine people, so they can stay safe, secure, and warm through this winter.
In all this year, Maine not only cemented our recovery from the pandemic – but we also built a foundation for success in 2023 and beyond.
This spring, the Legislature passed my supplemental budget proposal with bipartisan support – fully funding universal free meals in our public schools for the first time ever, providing one of the nation’s leading student debt relief programs, and providing free community college for young people who were most impacted by pandemic disruptions.
Investments from my Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan continue to build an economy poised for future prosperity, improving the lives of Maine people and families and helping small businesses, creating good paying jobs.
We provided direct economic relief to nearly 1,000 small businesses in every county, we created workforce opportunities for more than 22,000 Maine people, and we invested in the infrastructure we need – from drinking water and wastewater enhancement to affordable housing, childcare, climate adaptation, and energy efficiency.
And through deliberate financial management, we have built up the Rainy-Day Fund to its highest level ever – ensuring that our state is prepared to withstand uncertain any economic times ahead.
Recent years have been turbulent because of many forces outside our control, but our state has a strong foundation for 2023 and the years ahead – and we have the people to make it successful.
As I’ve traveled the state this year, I’ve been continually reminded of the strength and the resilience of Maine people.
From the laundromat owner in the St. John Valley, to the loggers of western and northern Maine, the shipbuilders and boatbuilders of the coast, the greenhouse entrepreneur in Lisbon, the lobstermen who, in the face of high costs and burdensome Federal regulations, continue to set out from the Maine coast before dawn – this year, I have once again been inspired by the grit and determination of the people of Maine.
Every day, you make me proud to serve as your Governor and I thank you for that honor.
I extend to each of you my warmest wishes for health and happiness in the New Year.
This is Governor Janet Mills, and thank you for listening.