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  • Technicians at Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital vote overwhelmingly to authorize a strike

    March 6, 2020

    The technicians at Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital (NLMC) have authorized their union bargaining team to call a strike when necessary, according to the Maine State Nurses Association, the union that represents both these employees and the registered nurses at the hospital.

    The technicians—including Cardio Pulmonary, Radiology, Laboratory and Operating Room employees, have been working to reach a first contract agreement with their employer for over two years. The outstanding issues revolve around patient care, secure benefits and fair compensation.  

    “Just like the nurses, our first concern is patient care. We formed our union over two years ago to advocate for better staffing and safer conditions in the hospital,” said Cynthia Grindal, a medical lab technician at Maine Coast.

    Respiratory therapist and bargaining team member Dave Evans said, “We are not looking for anything more than what the other unionized Maine Coast employees already have in their contract here at this hospital. We’re not asking for the moon, just a stronger voice for our patients and a little security for ourselves.”

    According to the union bargaining team, resolving the issues at hand will benefit many more people than just those who are currently employed at the hospital.

    “Recruiting and retaining quality technicians at our hospital means giving them reasons to come work here and reasons to stay working here," said CT Technician Sam Winter, another bargaining team member. "For that to happen, we believe that management needs to hear our concerns and meet us half-way. They haven’t come close to ‘half-way’ since we started this process.”

    No date has yet been set for the possible strike. Any potential date will be set by the union bargaining team in consultation with the rank-and-file membership.

    The Maine State Employees Association is the largest union in Maine for Registered Nurses. It is affiliated with National Nurses Organizing Committee and National Nurses United, the largest union of Registered Nurses in the United States.

  • Maine to Begin Testing for COVID-19 at State Lab

    03/05/2020 - AUGUSTA – The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) announced today that testing for the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the state's Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory is expected to begin in the next several days.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) yesterday updated guidelines to expand the criteria for what makes individuals with symptoms of the virus eligible for COVID-19 testing.

    Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Maine has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at this time. As Maine CDC previously reported, one individual who met earlier federal testing criteria tested negative.

    In response to the expansion of federal criteria, more individuals in Maine are being tested. Maine CDC has received new testing equipment, and state lab staff are calibrating it and taking other steps to prepare for testing within the next several days. In the meantime, approximately a dozen samples from individuals in Maine are being sent to the U.S. CDC lab for testing. Results are pending. Maine CDC will inform the public if positive tests are confirmed and will offer regular updates on testing recommendations.

    The number of positive test results will be posted to Maine CDC's coronavirus webpage. The number of requests for testing will increase as the COVID-19 situation continues to rapidly evolve globally and in the United States.

    Moving forward, tests will be conducted at both Maine CDC and U.S. CDC to facilitate prompt results.

    Individuals who exhibit symptoms should contact their health care providers, who will make the initial determination on whether COVID-19 testing is advisable. In cases where it is, medical providers will alert the Maine CDC to coordinate testing. As appropriate, health providers will take samples and submit them to Maine CDC.

    Maine CDC continues comprehensive planning to ensure Maine is ready should the virus affect people here. Governor Janet Mills has convened a Coronavirus Response Team, led by Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah, charged with coordinating State government's response across departments and local agencies and health authorities to the potential spread of COVID-19. Maine CDC remains committed to providing accurate, up-to-date information about the 2019 novel coronavirus to Maine people.

    Please visit the Maine CDC website at www.maine.gov/dhhs/coronavirus.

  • Mills Signs New Maine Law Provides Free Noncommercial Lobster/Crab/Scallop Fishing Licenses to Disabled Veterans

     On February 28, 2020 Governor Janet Mills announced she has signed a bill to provide noncommercial lobster and crab fishing and scallop licenses to disabled veterans free of charge.

    The legislation, sponsored by Representative Allison Hepler of Woolwich, passed the Legislature with unanimous support. Rep. Hepler credits a constituant with bringing him the idea.

     “It is my hope that this new law will serve as another small expression of our deep gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our veterans. While we can never fully repay them for their contributions to our state and nation, this law will create more opportunities for disabled veterans to enjoy the Maine outdoors,” said Governor Mills. “I thank Representative Hepler for her work to support Maine’s veterans and the Legislature for its unanimous support of this legislation.”

     

    “This new law is a small token of the state’s deep appreciation for all that our disabled services members have sacrificed,” Representative Hepler, D-Woolwich, said. “It is a simple, yet meaningful, addition to the range of benefits the state already offers to our disabled veterans. I am grateful to Governor Mills for signing this bill into law and to the constituent who asked me to submit this piece of legislation.”

     

    LD 1882 “An Act To Provide Noncommercial Lobster and Crab Fishing Licenses and Scallop Licenses to Disabled Veterans at No Cost” ensures that qualified resident disabled veterans can obtain a noncommercial lobster and crab fishing license or a noncommercial scallop license at no cost and exempts qualified resident disabled veterans from paying the scallop license surcharge that is typically assessed on a noncommercial scallop license.

     

    The law will take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the Legislature.

  • Show up to vote March 3, 2020

    The world is run by the people who show up

       

    by Rep. Michelle Dunphy - a Democrat representing House District 122, which comprises the City of Old Town and the Indian Island Voting District. She is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs.

    It’s an election year. The television ads have already started and candidates and their volunteers are canvassing voters to earn their support. I hear a lot of people groan about the seemingly endless election cycle and how they eventually just tune it all out. 

    In a country where we treasure the right to vote, we also have to make the allowance that people also have the right to turn away and not vote. Maine has always enjoyed a high level of civic engagement. In presidential election years, voter turnout in Maine often exceeds 70 percent of all eligible voters and has among the highest participation rates in the nation.

    But still, 30 percent stay home and give the whole thing a pass. 

    I was talking with a coworker during a break recently, and they said they didn’t vote because “it really doesn’t matter. I’m just one vote, and I’m busy. Who cares, anyway? They just do what they want no matter how I vote.”

    I think it’s easy to think that way. But I also have seen how one or a few votes have made a huge difference. Sen. Cathy Breen, who is the chairperson of my committee, was elected to her first Senate term in an election where more than 25,000 voters cast ballots in her race — and she won by just seven votes. When John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1960, the margin was the equivalent of one vote in every precinct in America. That’s a tight election. The people who showed up for that election — in fact, in every election — are the ones who made the difference and whose voices shaped the future.

    On March 3, Maine will conduct its first-ever March presidential primary. While President Trump is unopposed in Maine’s Republican primary, there are a dozen names on the ballot for the Democratic nomination.

    But there’s more. Question 1, the people’s veto of the new law removing religious and philosophical exemptions to the mandatory vaccination law, is available for any eligible voter to weigh in on, whether you’re registered in a party or not. And if you aren’t registered, you can do that right at the polls on March 3. 

    Volunteers canvass voters, make phone calls and put up signs for a reason. These issues are important and the government requires our consent in order to move forward. If you don’t vote, then it’s the ones who do who call the shots. Shouldn’t you have a say in your future?

    Last year, my daughter voted in her first election. She had registered to vote right after she turned 18. So in June, when we had the RSU 34 budget validation vote, she went to the polling station at the Elks Lodge, announced herself, received her ballot and a felt pen from the ballot clerk after they checked off her name on the voter list, went into a voting booth, marked her ballot, and went and dropped it into the ballot box. After returning her pen, she got an “I Voted” sticker. It was simple, quick and easy. As it should be.

    Her great-grandmother, Mary Josephine McKee, would have looked on in amazement. Mary was arrested in the streets of Chicago while marching in a suffrage demonstration. A hundred years after women were given the right to vote after ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, it’s probably natural that such a simple thing as voting may seem so routine as to be unimportant. 

    This, though, is how we run the country and we do it best when we do it together. 

  • New Maine law helps students who miss school for mental health care

    By Ramona du Houx

    No longer with children with behavioral or mental issues be punished for them when they have to miss school because of them.

    Maine State Rep. Joyce “Jay” McCreight, D-Harpswell, introduced a bill that is now a new law that will ensure schools treat mental and behavioral health-related absences the same way they treat all other health-related absences. 

    McCreight’s bill, LD 1855, was signed by Gov. Janet Mills last week.

    “With the passage of this bill, we are further reducing the stigma of mental health care and substance use disorder,” said Rep. McCreight. “I’m hopeful that more students and parents will feel like it is okay to take the time needed to seek care. Thank you to all the members of the public for their outpouring of support, and thanks also to my colleagues in the Legislature and to Gov. Mills and her staff for making this bill a reality.”

    McCreight’s measure also provides greater clarity to school communities on how to support children dealing with difficult mental health experiences.

     The new law will go into effect later this year, 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.

    McCreight, House chair of the Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee and a member of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, is serving her third term in the Maine House and represents Harpswell, West Bath and northeastern Brunswick.

  • Belfast, Maine, to Hold Brownfields Information Session on February 24th

    The City of Belfast will be holding an information session about its Brownfields Assessment Program, which will take place at 6:00 pm on Monday, February 24th in City Council Chambers at Belfast City Hall, at 131 Church Street in Belfast.  This session is free and open to the public.

    Under the City of Belfast’s Brownfields Assessment Program, owners, developers, and/or prospective purchasers of ‘brownfield’ properties - which are commercial and industrial properties located within Belfast that have expansion, reuse, or redevelopment potential, but which are currently vacant or are underutilized due to known or perceived environmental contamination, can receive an environmental assessment and/or cleanup plan for that property, in order to provide environmental due diligence in support of obtaining bank financing, to document the environmental liabilities and the associated cleanup costs, to help revitalize these properties, and/or to protect the environment and public health.  The City of Belfast Brownfields Assessment Program is a voluntary program, where the services are provided at no charge to the owner, developer, or prospective purchaser; however the information and reports that are generated by this program become part of the public record. 

    The goal of this session is to educate people about this program and to highlight its benefits.

    According to Belfast Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge, ”while the City of Belfast has clearly recognized that this program is a powerful economic development tool and has consistently supported it, it is sometimes a challenge to get the participation of owners, developers, and prospective purchasers, due to unaddressed concerns that they may have or due to a lack of understanding of the program, and we encourage them to attend this session. 

    "Additionally, we are also hoping to make our local realtor and banker communities well aware of this resource.  This information session is part of a concerted, ongoing community outreach and engagement campaign that I hope will result in getting many worthwhile properties assessed in an efficient manner.”

    The funding for this program is provided through a United States Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Assessment Grant, which was applied for and secured by the City of Belfast during the first half of 2019.  The elected officials of the City of Belfast at that time - Mayor Samantha Paradis, City Councilor Paul Dean, City Councilor Neal Harkness, City Councilor Michael Hurley, City Councilor Mary Mortier, and City Councilor Eric Sanders - deserve credit for supporting the development and submission of the application to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. 

    The outreach for, and the management of, the City of Belfast Brownfields Assessment Program is being done by the City of Belfast along with a number of community partners, including: the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce; the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition; Belfast Public Health Nursing; Our Town Belfast; and Waldo Community Action Partners.

    Any persons with interest in the City of Belfast Brownfields Assessment Program are encouraged to contact Thomas Kittredge, Economic Development Director, at (207) 338-3370, extension 116, or via e-mail at economicdevelopment@cityofbelfast.org, where they can have confidential, no-obligation discussions regarding the program and their properties. 

    Information about the City of Belfast Brownfields Assessment Program can also be found at www.cityofbelfast.org/brownfields.

    The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program is designed to empower states, communities, and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment to work together in a timely manner to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields.

  • Maine: Request for Proposals Issued for the Sale of Energy or Renewable Energy Credits from Qualifying Renewable Resources

    Hallowell, Maine – February 14, 2020.  The Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) has issued a Request for Proposals for the Sale of Energy or Renewable Energy Credits from Qualifying Renewable Resources (Tranche 1).  The Commission is seeking proposals from qualifying renewable generation resources for the sale of energy or renewable energy credits (RECs).  A bidder may also offer to sell capacity as part of its proposal.  Bidder(s) selected will enter into 20-year contract(s) with one or both of Maine’s investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities - Central Maine Power Company (CMP) and Emera Maine (EM) (T&D utilities).  Initial proposals are due on or before April 10, 2020.  The RFP and related materials are available on the MPUC website at: https://www.maine.gov/mpuc/electricity/rfps/class1a2020/  

    Background: During its 2019 session, the Maine Legislature enacted An Act To Reform Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, Public Law 2019, Chapter 477 (Act).  The Act directs the Commission to conduct two competitive solicitation processes to procure, in the aggregate, an amount of energy or RECs from Class 1A resources that is equal to 14% of retail electricity sales in the State during calendar year 2018, or 1.715 Million MWh.  Of that 14% total, the Act directs the Commission to acquire at least 7%, but not more than 10%, through contracts approved by December 31, 2020 (Tranche 1), and to acquire the remaining amount (Tranche 2) through a solicitation process to be initiated no later than January 15, 2021.

    About the Commission

    The Maine Public Utilities Commission regulates electric, telephone, water and gas utilities to ensure that Maine citizens have access to safe and reliable utility service at rates that are just and reasonable for all ratepayers.  Commission programs include Maine Enhanced 911 Service and Dig Safe.  Philip L. Bartlett, II serves as Chairman, Bruce Williamson and Randall Davis serve as Commissioners.

     

    Learn more about the Commission at www.maine.gov/mpuc

     

  • Small Business Owners Call on Legislature to Ensure Overtime Protections for Maine Workers

    By Ramona du Houx


    The Maine Small Business Coalition, representing thousands of progressive small business owners across the state, is endorsing legislation to guarantee overtime pay for more Maine workers. LD 402 would gradually raise the salary threshold for eligibility for overtime pay, benefiting 28,000 salaried Maine workers. The bill will have a work session in the Labor and Housing Committee Wednesday morning.

    “As a baker, I can tell you the recipe for a successful small business: value your employees. That includes valuing their time and allowing them to have a life outside of work. It means allowing them to spend time with their friends, family, and community so that they can come back to work renewed and ready to give their all,” said Jim Amaral, founder and owner of Borealis Breads in Waldoboro and Wells.

    Maine small businesses, who overwhelmingly pay their workers fully for their time, often find themselves competing with large, out-of-state corporations that take advantage of outdated wage and hour laws to compensate their workers for less than the full time they work.

    “We have long fought for a living wage because we don’t believe that our business can be successful when our employees are struggling. That’s why it’s so frustrating to see big corporations skirting minimum wage laws by refusing to pay low wage salaried employees overtime. If we believe in a living wage, we need to close the loopholes that undermine it,” said Briana and Andrew Volk, owners of the Portland Hunt and Alpine Club.

    The bill — LD 402, “An Act to Restore Overtime Protections for Maine Workers” — would boost middle-class wages by $8.8 million, according to a new report published by the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

    “No worker in Maine should be made to work 60 or 70 hours per week without earning a living wage,” said James Myall, a policy analyst at MECEP and the report’s author. “Maine’s middle class is struggling even as corporations reap larger profits and pay lower taxes. LD 402 would guarantee overtime pay for all workers who earn less than $55,000. It would give Maine’s middle class a much-needed raise and boost our economy.”

    Nearly all hourly workers are already guaranteed overtime when they work more than 40 hours. But contrary to common understanding, overtime protections apply to salaried workers too. All workers who earns less than a “salary threshold” set by federal and state overtime regulations must receive time-and-a-half pay for overtime. But the salary threshold has failed to keep up with inflation as business interests have fought off proposed adjustments in an effort to keep wages low. As a result, salaried workers have lost overtime protection over time — including those with relatively low salaries. 

    “My parents founded Halcyon Yarn in 1971. They believed that the fabric of our business was only as strong as each individual thread. Together with our loyal employees, we have been able to create a beautiful tapestry over the last forty years,” notes Gretchen Jaeger, the owner of Halcyon Yarn in Bath. “We support paying salaried employees overtime because our business and our community fall apart when any one of us is holding on by a strand."

    While 65 percent of salaried Mainers earned less than the salary threshold in the ‘70s, only 20 percent do today. Under current Maine law, workers with salaries as low as $36,000 annually can be made to work overtime without earning a single additional dime. For those workers, accepting a salaried position can become a trap of long hours with low pay. LD 402 would increase the salary threshold to guarantee overtime for all workers who earn less than $55,000 annually.

    Phil Coupe, co-founder of ReVision Energy in South Portland, argues that allowing salaried employees to earn overtime was one of the ways that ReVision had expanded to 270 employees since its founding in 2003: “If we forced our salaried employees to work 70 hours and only paid them for 40 hours, we could save some money in the short term, but we would hurt morale and lose many of our workers.”

    Nate Barr, who owns Zootility, a multi-use tool manufacturing company in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood, notes that a strong overtime threshold makes business sense for small business owners.

    “I want my employees to come to work rested and re-energized, not exhausted and resentful that I’m making them neglect their families and work for free,” said Barr. “A lower overtime threshold is penny wise and pound foolish. If we want to grow scalable businesses and improve Maine’s economy, we need to treat our workers well.”
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Letter to Sen. Sussan Collins from Mark Lewis

    Dear Senator Collins:

    Who stands with Lt. Col. Vindman?

    As you no doubt by now have heard, President Trump has exacted his revenge on whomever testified in the impeachment hearings, including a true American hero and patriot, Lt. Col. Vindman. Vindman was subpoenaed, and under oath told the truth, and for this, he was punished by the man YOU assured us had "learned his lesson" from the impeachment hearings.

    Who stands with Lt. Col. Vindman?

    President Trump not only had Vindman escorted off the White House grounds like a criminal, he had Vindman's brother, who had nothing to do with the hearings and delivered no testimony, also escorted off White House grounds. Both men nobly and without question served our country, and were punished by President Trump for daring to tell truth to power.

    Who stands with Lt. Col. Vindman?

    President Trump blocked testimony and the delivery of pertinent documents that may have given a clearer indication of what really happened with the Ukraine call and if he committed an abuse of power. An innocent man would do no such thing, yet you and the rest of the Republican members of The Senate, save for Senator Romney, gave him a pass on the allegations, citing that "insufficient evidence" had been presented to the Senate. This of course, and as you well know, is nonsense. The House Managers delivered more than sufficient evidence to the guilt of the President. Senator McConnell announced to FOX viewers they had nothing to fear about Trump facing any repercussions from the Ukraine call. It would appear you and your GOP colleagues helped to make good on that promise.

    Who stands with Lt. Col. Vindman?

    There was once a time when you might have been able to take a place in history next to Senator Margaret Chase Smith for taking a moral stand against abuse of power. Chase Smith, as you know, had the courage and strength of her convictions to take a stand against Joseph McCarthy, despite the headwinds against her. It might appear you were more concerned about maintaining your seat in the Senate, than you were about ably representing the People of Maine and doing what clearly would have been the right thing. And now for your vote to acquit, you get to keep your seat and GOP support....and Lt. Col. Vindman was escorted off the White House grounds like a criminal.

    Who stands with Lt. Col. Vindman?

    It is difficult to know what is going to happen in the next year leading up to the election, but it's safe to say this election will be unlike any other, and President Trump will now stop at nothing to ensure his re-election, now that he knows the Senate is firmly and safely in his pocket. Your vote to stand with President Trump will forever tarnish your legacy, and you will be on the wrong side of history.

    Who stands with Lt. Col. Vindman?

    The People of Maine do... and you have turned your back on Vindman, and us.

    See you in November. It will be my pleasure to vote for your opponent.

    Mark Lewis

  • Jane Fonda announces Mayor Eric Garcetti said he’d phase out fossil fuels in LA

    By Ramona du Houx

    “We have to act like our house is on fire because it is,” actress Jane Fonda said Friday, February 7, referencing climate activist Greta Thunberg, before a crowd of hundreds of protestors outside Los Angeles City Hall in the first Fire Drill Friday rally in California.

    Fonda announced at her rally that Mayor Eric Garcetti, during on a phone conversation on February 5, agreed to the climate goals of the Last Chance Alliance, which happen to be the same goals of the Elected Officials to Protect California (EOPCA). Garcetti was also told there are over 300 CA elected officials that have signed a letter to Gov. Newson asking him to agree too.

    Those goals are to:

       ▪ roll out a statewide 2,500-foot buffer around new oil and gas wells,

       ▪ commit to end permitting for fossil fuel projects and,

       ▪ phase out all oil production and follow a just transition to 100% clean, job-creating energy.

    “You know what Mayor Garcetti said when I asked him if I could share the news?” asked Fonda addressing the crowd. “He said, ‘absolutely, absolutely.’”

     Fonda then called on Governor Gavin Newsom to make the same promise.

    On Valentine’s Day an EOPCA bipartisan group of mayors, county supervisors, and local elected officials will ask Governor Newsom to “show love for California” and enact a comprehensive Climate Emergency Plan to phase out the production and burning of oil and gas in California during their rally at the state Capitol, at 11am.

    The EOPCA group will also deliver their letter to Governor Gavin Newsom which has been signed by more than 300 local elected officials from 49 counties, including 74 mayors. The letter urges the Governor to end permits for all new oil and gas drilling, enact 2,500 foot public health setbacks, and start a just transition to 100% clean, renewable energy in all sectors, now. The same promise Mayor Garcetti made.

    Fossil fuel production drives the climate crisis and kills 12,000 Californians each year.

    They will urge Governor Newsom to show his love for California by acting immediately to protect the state from the climate crisis and declare a Climate Emergency.

    EOPCA considers Governor Newsom’s recent moratorium on new fracking permits and partial moratorium on steam-injection oil drilling and important first step. But emphasized it’s not enough.

    “Every oil well that Governor Newsom approves deepens the public health and climate emergency that fossil fuels cause,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, speaking at an event in Sacramento, CA. Rep. Cornell du Houx is president of EOPCA. Here's the radio report from that CA state capital press event: Listen to "California Elected Officials Call on Governor to Phase out Fossil Fuel Production" on Spreaker.

    Fires are only one sign of the growing devastation Californians are experiencing while the state fails to take emergency action. As the effects of the climate crisis mount, Californians will suffer more droughts, coastal erosion, and deadly heat waves. Extreme weather conditions will also overwhelm infrastructure and put countless lives at risk. The UN has stated we only have 10 years to transition to clean renewable energy to advert the extreme climate events from becoming the norm. 

    California’s Fire Drill Fridays will call for a Green New Deal, an end to new fossil fuels and a transition to a renewable energy economy, the group said in a news release.

    Fonda has partnered with the Last Chance Alliance and Green Peace to protest the first Friday of every month throughout California and eventually other states.

    “The science is clear — we need to stop burning fossil fuels and invest aggressively in a transition to clean, safe, renewable energy," Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard said in a written statement.

    The next Fire Drill Fridays rally is scheduled to take place in Wilmington, California on March 7th.

    Elected Officials to Protect CA, is part of the Elected Officials to Protect America network, sponsered by the Solon Center for Research and Publishing of Maine.

  • Mills: The supplemental budget balances the health and safety of Maine families and our workforce needs

    Oped by Maine Governor Janet Mills

    07/02/2020

    A year ago, I presented my Administration’s first biennial budget. That budget was based on HOPE – health, opportunity, prosperity, and education.

    The Legislature then debated that proposal, negotiated some compromises and then they enacted – respectfully and in timely fashion – a balanced budget, with two-thirds bipartisan support, without raising any taxes.

    Since that time, we’ve been very fortunate. Our economy has remained strong, with continued growth and record low unemployment. The economic forecast and the revenue projections are positive, with more than half of projected revenue being one-time funds, but a forecast that permits us now to identify specific needs to present to the Legislature in the form of a supplemental budget.

    The supplemental budget I proposed this week reflects three bipartisan priorities:

    1. Setting aside money in the State’s Rainy Day Fund to protect us against an economic downturn;
    2. Strengthening those services that protect the health, safety and well-being of Maine families;
    3. Addressing our critical workforce needs and responding to the immediate needs of the educational and business communities.

    In this budget I propose that we build on our state’s record-high Rainy Day Fund by setting aside another $20 million dollars of that projected surplus in savings. If that’s approved, the Budget Stabilization Fund will have grown by $50 million since I took office. That’s important savings for a Rainy Day.

    Government is also about keeping people safe and protecting children and families so the supplemental requests 20 additional positions so we can respond to reports of child abuse or neglect, and it eliminates the current Section 29 waitlist for people with developmental disabilities while we work to improve services for all people with disabilities.

    The budget also funds 14 new patrol officers and sergeants at the Maine State Police. The fact is, the number of state police patrol officers has not changed since the 1970’s, while traffic, technology and population have all grown. There are simply too few troopers to respond to car crashes, lost children and crime scenes.

    The budget also invests in expanding Maine’s workforce to respond to the demands of the present and the needs of the future. So, it:

    • funds short-term training programs through Maine’s community colleges; the Maine Apprenticeship Program; and Adult Education;
    • invests in critical capital equipment like computers and forklifts for the career and technical education centers so that they can succeed in training our students in jobs that pay good wages. You know those CTEs haven’t had substantial funding for equipment since 1998. It’s time to get with the program;
    • and the budget raises the state’s share of public education to nearly 52 percent for pre-K through 12 — that’s a two percent increase since I took office. And it makes whole our higher education institutions in the second year of the biennium.

    I am also presenting a bond package to the Legislature, and asking them to let you, the voters, decide on $100 million in borrowing for transportation to fix the potholes and $15 million to bring high-speed internet to your towns.

    This supplemental budget is balanced. It does not create new programs. It takes care that one-time monies are used for one time needs and that we fulfill our obligation within existing programs to take care of our schools, child welfare and public safety needs.

    As the Legislature puts their own fingerprints on this document, I hope that they do so with caution, balancing the health and safety of Maine families and our workforce needs with the long-term health of the state.