Maine Gov. Janet Mills joined other governors in calling for “a much-needed sense of stability and normalcy” and pushing for more White House support to weather the COVID-19 pandemic after returning from a gathering of top state officials.
The Democratic governor’s statement after the National Governors Association’s winter conference in Washington, D.C., comes at a crucial moment ahead of her likely showdown with former Republican Gov. Paul LePage in the fall, who has criticized her and President Joe Biden’s management of the pandemic.
The balance of health and state economies will take center stage nationally in the 2022 midterm elections with the pandemic entering its third year. Governors reported some agreement with Biden after meeting with him over the weekend on a return to a larger sense of normalcy and helping schools remain open.
“We need the CDC to help us to have the right standards to end this pandemic and move to more endemic status,” said Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who chairs the national association.
Mills, who recently secured more doses of a key COVID-19 treatment from the White House after public health officials facing a massive backlog of positive tests questioned the use of daily case counts as a key metric for setting federal policy, largely agreed in a Tuesday statement.
She emphasized the importance of keeping schools open and making sure parents can go back to work. Mills has been firm on not reviving her earlier economic mandates aimed at keeping the pandemic in check and her recent statements are in line with a broader trend of accepting the virus as a part of life even as cases remain high.
“From the President to my fellow governors, there was consensus that we all want to move America and our states forward to achieve a much-needed sense of stability and normalcy for our citizens,” Mills said.
Their governor’s conversations over the weekend also touched on federal economic recovery measures and the rollout of last year’s massive infrastructure bill, Mills’ office said.
Mills has thus far refrained from much campaign rhetoric ahead of her campaign with LePage, basing many of her recent public-relations pushes on the state’s use of American Rescue Plan Act funds to help the state recover from the pandemic.
Next week’s State of the State will likely continue that trend and present a view of the governor’s spending agenda. Mills has not revealed much about her plans for the proposal, but she has urged caution while indicating support for returning surplus revenue to Mainers.