Weekly Radio Address: Senator Hill says, We Have to Check our Politics at the Door
Good morning. This is State Senator Dawn Hill of York.
As the Senate Chair of the state’s budget writing committee, I can tell you that six months ago, when the newly elected legislature was sworn in, we knew we had our work cut out for us.
Not only was the state of Maine facing significant economic challenges, but for the first time in years, we had a divided government.
A recurring theme in public service, and something that has assumed greater relevancy this year, is the need for compromise and responsible solutions. In a divided government such as ours, where the branches of government are controlled by different political parties, finding common ground and doing what is best for Maine is essential for good governance.
And based on recent work in the Legislature, I’d say we’ve found common ground. Just this week, the Legislature has successfully moved a number of measures forward in a bipartisan fashion–with determination and resolve to work together for the betterment of Maine people.
Earlier this week, we passed an omnibus energy bill–one that was created by Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate. Since its drafting, it’s received resounding support in both bodies and is poised to be a historic energy measure that will not only help Maine families but it will also keep Maine’s industrial and commercial facilities competitive and help them save money.
Next, the Legislature gave the green light to expanding health care to nearly 70,000 Maine people by accepting federal health care dollars. Once a lightning rod issue, Democrats and Republicans and Independents stood together. While the bill isn’t everything Democrats–or Republicans want–it was a bipartisan compromise. As my colleague Senator Goodall said, “We cannot be silo-ed in one political belief or another. We must do what is best for Mainers.”
This mantra carried forward for lawmakers in Augusta when just days ago, the Appropriations committee moved forward in support of an alternative to the Governor’s budget—where in five months only one person stepped forward to support his budget. His budget shifts $400 million in taxes on to our towns, property owners, and businesses.
Our plan–the plan agreed to by Democrats and Republicans–offers a common-sense solution. A solution that is fiscally responsible.
Make no mistake, there’s a lot in this budget that was hard for Democrats to accept but we did so to reach accord. And we are thankful to our Republican colleagues who did the same so that we could pass a budget that is right for the people of Maine. In doing so, we have avoided what many people, including the Governor have threatened: to shut down the state.
We have to be honest with Maine people. This is a budget where neither Democrats nor Republicans got all that they wanted. But it is a budget that will keep government open, protect our towns, and schools and our people. It is a responsible solution.
In these days of divided government, too often the attitude of “my way or the highway” gets in the way. It creates stalemates and gridlock.
In order to get things done, to move Maine forward, many lawmakers know we have to check our politics at the door and come up with solutions we can all live with so we complete the people’s work.
Often in the halls of the State House, we hear protesters chant, “This is what Democracy looks like.” And I am reminded of those words as we roll up our sleeves, remain true to our values yet not let our own self interest get in the way of doing what’s best for the state.
This has been an important session. We have just a few weeks left before we adjourn. We can finish strong and continue to do what is right and best for our state. We’ve shown the people of Maine that through compromise and working together, the Legislature can move Maine forward.
Thank you for listening this is State Senator Dawn Hill. Have a great weekend.