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Governor Mills discusses plan to fight opioid addiction in Maine

Governor Janet Mills gave her 2023 State of the Budget speech to the Joint Convention of the Maine Legislature on Feb. 14. 

“I was pleased to report, to them and to you, that our state stands on a strong fiscal footing, that we are prepared to weather whatever economic challenges may come, and that the state of our budget is strong,” she said.

With the budget in good shape, Mills continued to discuss the projected revenue earnings of the state of Maine in the upcoming years. 

“According to the independent, nonpartisan Revenue Forecasting Committee, the State of Maine anticipates a total of $10.5 billion in revenue over the next two years, and $11.6 billion in 2026 and ‘27,” Mills stated.

The strong revenue forecasts are in part due to Maine’s continuing recovery from the pandemic and its sustained economic growth. Even adjusted for inflation, people in Maine are still earning more than they did a few years ago. Despite these promising revenue predictions, Maine still faces severe challenges.

Mills’ budget proposals include, but are not limited to, initiatives for free community college, investments in infrastructure, building more housing, and bolstering Maine’s healthcare. One of her biggest goals for the budget is to tackle the current opioid crisis and its links to child abuse and neglect.

Records from the office of Maine’s Attorney General show that there were over 10,000 drug overdoses across Maine in 2022. 700 of these overdoses resulted in death, and 80% of the deaths included fentanyl. A priority in Mills’s budget proposal is to continue and strengthen the fight against opioid addiction.  

The proposed fight against the opioid crisis has five main components. The first component is to increase access to naloxone by 25%. Naloxone is a drug that counters an opioid overdose. 

Secondly, the number of options liaisons will be increased. Options liaisons are professionals who hop on law enforcement calls regarding substance abuse and connect people to recovery and treatment resources. 

The third part of the plan involves working with the Maine Child Welfare Action Network to create a more comprehensive plan to protect the children of Maine. 

The fourth part is to increase the number of family courts in Maine. These courts will specifically work with parents who are struggling with substance abuse. On a similar note, the fifth component of Mills’s proposal is to create four new district court judge courtships to reduce the backlog in the court system that stems from the pandemic. 

However, there are more than just financial needs in the fight against opioid addiction. Maine is also in need of a larger workforce to help support the new initiatives in the budget. For example, the budget includes investing 2 million dollars in new residential treatment beds, but more workers will be required to manage the new beds. 

Republican State Senator Marianne Moore sits on the health and human services committee. 

“There are beds available,” she said,  “We don’t have the workforce in some cases. It’s kind of a vicious cycle. It’s easy to say, ‘I’m gonna fund 140 beds.’ However, we’ve got to make sure we have the workforce to be able to cover that.”

Despite ongoing issues, the new budget proposal shows Maine’s strong fiscal reports and readiness to tackle these heavy challenges. In her address, Mills closed with, “Maine has real challenges, but we also have a plan in the form of my budget proposal and the actions that I have proposed to address these challenges.”


~ Vivian Nguyen `25

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