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Phil: Gov. Janet Mills officially kicked off her re-election with her State of the State rally, or speech, last week. Even you couldn’t have offered more free stuff in 50 minutes.
Ethan: Oh, yes I could have.
Phil: I think she gave you a run for your money. Free community college. Free healthcare. Free raises if you work in child care. Free lunch, even for wealthy kids. “Free” federal money to give a one-time check to 800,000 Mainers. And broadband for everyone!
Ethan: What’s wrong with all that?
Phil: Just that I missed the part where she explained who is going to pay for it.
Ethan: No charge. It’s being paid for by the surplus.
Phil: You mean the one-time surplus that will create a dependent constituency who will want every one of those programs funded after the money dries up? That’s why she should simply put it all back into tax rate reduction.
Ethan: Republicans said half of it should go to tax relief and she agreed (unfortunately). Now you want all of it?
Phil: Look at this way, if you bought $100 worth of goods on Amazon and you found out later that they overcharged you by $50, would you be OK if they just sent you back $25? “I’m sorry Mr. Strimling, we need half of your overcharge to pay for someone else’s purchase. I’m sure you understand.”
Ethan: Well, if I actually thought Jeff Bezos would put that money toward someone who needed it, or toward paying his workers better, I might actually be OK with that.
Phil: Of course you would. I’ll tell you what, I’d have a lot more confidence that the state would put our money to best use if a businessperson like Bezos ran it. He would know how to end a program that wasn’t working. Mills even wants to build a greenhouse in every school for heaven’s sake.
Ethan: Learning to grow your own healthy food is a crucial skill I wish I had learned growing up. Plus, it’s good for the planet. I just wish she hadn’t vetoed the bill that would have protected our future farm workers from adverse working conditions. Policy aside, do you think her speech was an effective kickoff for her campaign?
Phil: It came across to me as a campaign speech for Democratic legislators rather than to the people of Maine. She likely confirmed who she is for those in the chamber who like her and did the same for those who don’t. By the way, donning a mask throughout the speech created a non-verbal fence stifling her connectivity with voters.
Ethan: The rules of the House don’t allow her to take it off, and woe be the executive who tries to tell the Legislature how to treat a guest. But I actually admire her for putting public health ahead of her personal image.
Phil: And what’s your take of the speech? Should Mills place her order for a second-term SUV?
Ethan: The speech was solid, but she needs to do more to fire up her base. Republicans will be turning out in droves for Paul LePage and, honestly, we Dems are feeling a bit uninspired after her vetoes of so many important bills.
Phil: Well, she did give a shout-out to your “tenants union.”
Ethan: Good point! While her tone was a bit snarky, that has to be the first time in Maine history a sitting governor has ever uttered those words at a state of the state.
Phil: Well, after your victory over your landlord last week, you certainly got everyone’s attention including the governor.