AUGUSTA — Democratic leaders said overall Gov. Janet Mills hit the right points and priorities in the plans she laid out for the state, especially getting Mainers and Maine businesses back on their feet from the challenges brought by the pandemic, but also planning for the state’s future.
“Recognizing the challenges we still face in the state but also as the governor noted that we still need to make investments because we can’t cut our way to prosperity,” House Speaker Ryan Fecteau said,
“We need to make sure that Maine families who have faced tough times and businesses that have faced tough times as a result of the pandemic that we have their backs and we are there for them and I think the governor laid that out pretty well tonight,” he said.
Senate President Troy Jackson said, “First and foremost, like she said, getting the economy back up and running. Getting people to work getting businesses back up on their feet is job number one for certain. It’s how you do that…
“What I would like to see is that we make sure that Maine companies and Maine workers get those opportunities and I am very frustrated by our past record,” Jackson said. “Now is the time to make sure we prioritize who we are going to help and that should be who we represent — Mainers.”
Fecteau and Jackson also responded to Republican Sen. Jeff Timberlake’s comments on increased partisanship in the state legislature due to the largely virtual work environment.
Jackson said he feels the partisanship stems not from the online work environment and lack of in-person communication but rather from non-compliance with safety protocols in the State House, particularly mask-wearing.
He said they won’t be able to gather again as in previous sessions until those protocols are followed uniformly or until a sufficient number of staff and lawmakers are vaccinated.
Fecteau said that while the virtual work environment is far from ideal, his priority is keeping both legislators and the nonpartisan staff members in the State House safe. He also said he is looking forward to at least being able to meet in the Augusta Civic Center for more in-person interaction.