Right here’s the place Republicans applauded throughout Janet Mills’ price range speech
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Gov. Janet Mills gave an hourlong price range deal with on Tuesday, making the case for her $10.3 billion spending plan for the following two years whereas unveiling a bunch of latest power, housing and youngster welfare initiatives.
We had been scanning the room for clues on the way it landed, counting 23 applause traces for the Democratic governor. About half featured roughly equal reactions from either side of the aisle in a speech peppered with references to bipartisan work that closed with Mills’ hope for a consensus price range.
Areas through which the events agreed confirmed how Maine politics has modified throughout the Mills period, whereas disagreements confirmed a tough roadmap for the remainder of the Legislature’s 2023 work. Listed here are three essential classes.
Everybody favored spending on colleges and municipal help.
Mills’ price range continues previous initiatives, together with by funding Ok-12 schooling and income sharing to cities and cities at statutory ranges that had been unmet earlier than the governor’s tenure. She was capable of meet them after a raft of federal COVID-19 help left Maine and different states flush with surpluses.
On Tuesday, Mills touted these accomplishments saying in earlier budgets she and lawmakers “received quite a bit finished.” Each Democrats and Republicans applauded that assertion, although members of the latter celebration on the Home facet had been a bit slower to rise on the schooling piece.
Former Gov. Paul LePage made income sharing right into a considerably partisan concern throughout his tenure, when he as soon as proposed zeroing it out of a price range plan. Whereas he by no means succeeded in doing that, his actions contributed to power underfunding. Within the Mills period, she and Democrats have led the way in which on these initiatives and Republicans have seen this help as various to new state applications.
Two Republicans stood out as an ally and adversary for Mills.
From the designated press space within the Democratic nook of the Home chamber, it was a bit of bit tough to see the Republican facet of the room. However two members stood out for once they clapped and when they didn’t.
Sen. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, was the one Republican whom I noticed applauding Mills’ embrace of taking a “Housing First” plan utilized in Portland and another elements of Maine statewide. This successfully means subsidizing everlasting housing for individuals who lack it earlier than connecting them with different wanted companies, together with psychological well being or substance misuse remedy.
Pouliot comes from a novel place on the problem — he owns a serious actual property firm within the capital metropolis and helped negotiate the housing reform deal handed final yr over the objections of many conservatives. He can be a key member of the committee targeted on the housing affordability disaster.
Maybe the stingiest member of the Home when it got here to applause was Rep. Laurel Libby, R-Auburn, who remained seated a couple of occasions whereas these round her clapped, together with when Mills highlighted her proposal to proceed funding common college meals for Maine kids.
The conservative facet acquired Mills’ new power aim poorly.
Some Republicans applauded politely for a lot of the speech, together with Rep. Scott Cyrway, R-Benton, who was a longtime member of the Senate earlier than flipping over to the decrease chamber this yr. However even he was at relaxation when Mills outlined her aim of absolutely powering Maine with renewables by 2040.
This was notable as one of many solely new initiatives the governor talked about that’s prone to come outdoors of the price range course of — which means Democrats are prone to move it by themselves as a standalone measure. After the speech, Home Minority Chief Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, shrugged off the thought after the speech saying Maine should “look out for the ratepayers.”
Mills decried the billions despatched out of state to “huge fossil-fuel firms” throughout the speech. In substance, that’s not a lot totally different than the state’s long-term power targets courting again to the LePage period, when weaning Maine off heating oil was a serious precedence. However excessive prices have led to extra of a partisan divide on how rapidly to do that, and the Republican response was a symptom of that.