Op-Ed: Governor Mills crippled Maine’s economy

Governor Janet Mills’ strict COVID restrictions and poor management have crippled Maine’s economy says Tommy Hicks, Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee, in this exclusive op-ed.

Over the past year, Americans have watched with dismay as one Democrat governor after another has crippled his or her state’s economy with overly harsh COVID-19 restrictions. It’s no different here in the Pine Tree State, where Governor Janet Mills’ heavy-handed response to the pandemic has hampered Maine’s economic recovery at every turn.

The economic shutdowns Governor Mills imposed have been a millstone around the neck of job creators from Bangor to Biddeford and everywhere in between. Mills’ lockdowns hit Maine’s hospitality industry especially hard, causing businesses to plummet by nearly 30 percent last year. In a state where one in six jobs is tied to tourism, Mills’ shutdowns have been nothing short of devastating.  

Perhaps most disappointing – and disqualifying as she seeks a second term  – is that Mills kept Maine largely locked down even after it became clear that protracted shutdowns did little to slow the spread of COVID-19 and did more harm than good. Unfortunately, the severe shutdowns she imposed aren’t the only way Mills has failed Mainers. Even today, she continues to hold your state back with her out-of-touch policies.

Consider this. Thanks to Operation Ward Speed and the Trump Administration successfully overseeing the development of multiple safe and effective vaccines, our country is putting COVID-19 to bed.

But even as America recovers from the virus and reopens, small businesses are still struggling to find workers. For that, they can blame career politicians, like Janet Mills, who are forcing Maine small businesses to compete with a federal government that is paying some workers more to stay at home than they would earn with a job.

That’s because under Mills, Maine has kept the federal government’s policy of paying people not to work. She’s done so even as many economists agree these subsidies remain a major hurdle to getting Americans back to work and our economy firing on all cylinders again.  

Janet Mills’ failures in Augusta stand in stark contrast to the successful approach Republican governors in state capitols across the country are taking in bringing jobs back and getting their citizens back to work.

For proof, you have to go no further than across the Piscataqua River into neighboring New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, a state run by Republicans, their unemployment rate is more than two points lower than it is here in Maine.

This split screen reflects a broader nationwide trend between Republican states leading economic recoveries and Democrat-led ones lagging far behind. In fact, 15 of the 18 states with the lowest unemployment rates today have GOP governors. Ditto when it comes to states with the fastest job recoveries, where 16 of the top 20 are run by Republicans. 

It’s not like these discrepancies are the result of forces beyond one’s control. It’s the difference between proven commonsense, conservative policies that work and those that fail every time they are tried. Here in Maine, those failures start at the desk of Governor Mills.

Janet Mills has held back Maine families and businesses for too long with her failed leadership. Mainers deserve better, and Republicans look forward to delivering better when we retire Janet Mills by winning at the ballot box next November.

Thomas O. Hicks, Jr. (“Tommy”) was elected to serve as co-chairman of the Republican National Committee in January 2019.

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