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Child care is critical

The Maine Chamber of Commerce completely agrees with Heidi MacAllister-McDonald’s recent OpEd highlighting the value of early childhood education and urging increased support for early learning. Two of the lessons learned from our pandemic experience are that child care is an essential underpinning of Maine’s economy, and that it should be supported in a way that reflects its economic importance.

We are pleased that Gov. Janet Mills’ Economic Recovery Committee is advocating for child care funding as an essential program supporting efforts to restart Maine’s economy. The Committee recommends a total of $45 million from the federal CARES Act Economic Relief Fund be spent on child care supports: $20 million for education and care to our youngest children, and $25 million to support children during their out-of-school time.

Research shows us that high-quality early programs are a solid investment in Maine’s future workforce. These programs teach our youngest children the cognitive, social, and emotional skills they need to succeed when they start kindergarten, creating the foundation for continued success throughout school. Equally important, early education teachers make it possible for many parents to go to work and know that their children are safe and nurtured.

During the pandemic, we’ve seen how critical child care is for our essential workers. We now have a greater understanding of and value for the child care industry as a key support for so many of Maine’s economic sectors. We hope Maine policymakers endorse the Economic Recovery Committee’s recommendations for needed support for this vital industry.

Megan Diver

Senior Government Relations Specialist

Maine Chamber of Commerce

Bowdoin

Collins’ leadership

This past year it was announced that, for the seventh time in a row, Sen. Susan Collins has been ranked the most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate for her willingness to work with members of the opposite party.

For those of us here in Maine, it comes as no surprise that Collins is so willing to work across the aisle. After all, it’s how she has managed to deliver so much relief to our state during this time of crisis.

We have always been able to count on Collins to do what is right, rather than what is politically convenient, and nobody works harder than she does. She takes her job seriously, which is highlighted by the fact that she has never, for any reason, missed a vote during her time in Washington.

During the COVID-19 crisis, she moved mountains to deliver funding to benefit small businesses and their employees, our state and municipal governments, the lobster and agricultural industries and more. We’re so fortunate to have her sound leadership in Washington, which is why I will be voting to re-elect Sen. Susan Collins.

Anna Zmistowski

Chair

University of Maine College Republicans

Orono

I’m at a loss

My wife and I are over 65, plus she has an immune-deficient disease. In an effort to avoid Covid-19, we prefer to patronize businesses that follow CDC guidelines including requiring face coverings for employees and customers.

We were shopping at a local business last week and casually suggested that they consider wearing masks. We have done business with this family for five or six years, spending perhaps $1,000 annually, and had considered them as friends. Their aggressive response, therefore, was truly a shock. We were told that we could wear masks if we chose, but they would not and that if we weren’t comfortable with that, we could take our business elsewhere.

I am at a loss to understand how such a simple method of keeping one another safe has become a red hot, divisive political issue. One hundred years ago, the “Spanish” flu killed in excess of 50,000,000 people worldwide, including an estimated 675,000 Americans. (My mother was born at home in December, 1918, because her mother was afraid to go to hospital.)

Philadelphia resisted social distancing and mask wearing guidelines, while St. Louis embraced them. Philadelphia”s death rate per 100,000 people was estimated to be around 800, while the St. Louis rate was around 400. Maine does not (yet!) have an enforceable law mandating that businesses follow CDC guidelines, but I believe that there is something we can do about it.

If enough of us stop patronizing non-compliant businesses, perhaps our combined economic pressure can help local businesses “see the light.” Please understand that while I completely support your right to risk your life to make a political statement, you do not have the right to risk my life or my wife’s life while doing so.

Skip Gates

Skowhegan