AUGUSTA (WGME) – Friday marked a milestone for Gov. Janet Mills — it was her 100th day in office.
“Well, in some sense it feels like 10 days because it’s still fresh and new and fun and exciting. In other ways, it feels like 200 days or 300 days because I think we’ve accomplished so much,” Mills said when asked to reflect on the start of her tenure.
Mills feels strongly that the same things she ran on last year — and promised she would do — are exactly the same things she has tackled during her first 100 days in office, namely health care, education funding, and climate change.
Her work on health care, for example, included pushing through a Medicaid expansion.
So far, more than 17,000 people have been added to MaineCare this year, with about 70,000 expected under the expansion plan.
Mills’ goal was “to make that happen. And to make it happen in an economic and feasible way.”
She has encountered push back from Republicans around what is “feasible” when it comes to money, with GOP leaders repeatedly claiming her budget priorities — from Medicaid to added school funding — are unsustainable.
While Mills disputes that, she insists she is working with lawmakers and pointed to a new state revenue report expected by May 1 that should help settle the budget.
“I expect it will be in line with what we based our budget on. But I think both sides, both parties and all members of the Appropriations Committee certainly are looking for that report, to make their final decisions on where to adjust the budget we presented them with,” Mills said.
Mills also singled out the Central Maine Power transmission line project — which she supports but that others do not — as one of her early challenges.
“Which, you know, on Day 1, was a big issue for everybody and is still a big issue. And not without controversy but, you know, we expect big issues. We expect issues every day.”
So what’s next?
Mills said she expects more of the same with a few added priorities, such as helping small businesses better afford health insurance.
“We don’t talk about it much. But it’s there and I certainly heard a lot about it on the campaign trail,” she said.
Also ahead of Mills is the ongoing challenge of growing the economy and Maine’s population.
“I’m always looking to bring people to Maine and bring people back to Maine. That’s why we put out the ‘Welcome Home’ sign,” she said.
Mills also said she knows her administration will not be judged so much on what happened in the first 100 days she occupied this side of the state house but rather what happens over the next 1,361 days and, she hopes, perhaps four more years after that.