Gov. Janet Mills delivers her State of the Budget address on Tuesday at the State House in Augusta. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

Gov. Janet Mills announced new initiatives to increase access to the lifesaving opioid antidote naloxone and treatment beds for people with substance use disorder during a speech Tuesday night in which she also urged lawmakers to pass her proposed two-year budget.

Along with expanded treatment access, Mills pledged more efforts to protect children from drug-related abuse and neglect and assist parents who are struggling with addiction by engaging recovery coaches and expanding the number of family recovery courts in Maine.

“The scourge of addiction continues to reach into every corner of our state – rural and urban – robbing us of friends, family and loved ones, diminishing our sense of community, our workforce, and our future,” Mills said. An estimated 716 people died from an overdose in Maine in 2022, the third straight year of record fatalities.

Those initiatives are separate from Mills’ two-year budget proposal and are being funded by the existing state budget or in non-budget funds, such as money awarded to the state in a national opioid settlement, according the governor’s office.

Mills unveiled those and other actions during a State of the Budget Address delivered Tuesday evening to a joint session of House and Senate lawmakers at the State House. The annual speech is often called a State of the State Address, except in years when a governor has just given an inaugural address and introduced a new budget proposal.

Mills used much of the speech to promote the $10.3 billion two-year budget proposal unveiled by the governor last month. It would extend and expand a range of programs begun during her first four-year term in office. The roughly $900 million in additional spending would continue support for public education, pre-kindergarten programs and free community college tuition, and expand investments in behavioral health, child welfare, and services for older Mainers and people with disabilities, among other priorities.


The 9.6% increase in the size of the budget is based on projected growth in state revenues and would not require tax increases or use of the state’s reserves, or rainy day fund, the Mills administration said.

“This budget proposal is strong. It is balanced. It lives within our means. It does not raise taxes. It makes meaningful investments in the things people rely on every day – while maintaining our record high Rainy Day Fund to protect us against an economic downturn,” said Mills.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate said again in a video response Tuesday night that they believe the governor’s budget proposal is “$1 billion too high.” They said the projected increase in state revenues over the next two years should be used to reduce taxes as Mainers struggle with rising costs, although they have not yet put forward a detailed plan for reducing taxes.

“While the folks where I’m from in Aroostook County struggle to pay their electric bill, cut costs at the grocery store and wonder how they will pay their property taxes or the IRS, the governor and her minions dream of new ways to spend more of your money,” said Senate Minority Leader Trey Stewart, R-Presque Isle.

“Are there things in this budget that are important and worthy?” said House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor. “Of course there are and we will 100% support things like nursing home funding, money for the disabled, schools, roads, bridges and a safety net for Mainers in need. But this budget goes far beyond our ability to pay for it and we are headed down a dangerous road of dependency that will burden our children and grandchildren with debt and disastrous choices when we face the next economic downturn.”

Outside of the budget proposal, Mills announced the state will increase its purchase and distribution of naloxone by 25% to prevent more fatal drug overdoses. “We start by saving lives, pure and simple,” she said.


She also said the state is working to double the number of trained individuals who join law enforcement officers on calls related to substance use and can lead people to treatment and recovery services.  The governor said those liaisons got nearly 100 people into treatment in December alone. Mills also said she directed the Department of Health and Human Services to invest another $2 million to increase the availability of residential treatment and detox beds in Maine.

Mills highlighted plans to improve child welfare, saying drug use by parents is often a critical factor in cases of abuse and neglect. “Maine’s drug epidemic is a grave threat to the safety of our children,” she said.

She said she is directing the Department of Health and Human Services to embed a clinical expert in substance use disorder in every child welfare district “to better recognize the influence of substance use, to navigate the risks to children, and to steer parents into treatment,” she said. She has also directed the department to restore a recovery coach pilot program to support parents who are struggling with substance use disorder, and she said she wants to expand the number of family recovery courts in Maine. There are currently three – in Augusta, Bangor and Lewiston – but she did not say how many she would like to add.

Mills pledged to sign a bill that would promote the concept of “Housing First,” which emerged in the 1990s and is already being used in parts of Maine.

“I also understand there is a bill before the Legislature that espouses the concept of ‘housing first.’” she said. “Under this legislation, Maine would provide permanent supportive housing for hundreds of Maine’s citizens, providing communities across Maine with a desperately needed resource to address chronic homelessness and reduce health care and public safety costs. The time for this legislation has come. Tonight, I call on the Legislature to send that bill to my desk. I will sign it.”

She announced a proposal to add four district court judgeships to relieve the mounting backlog of cases in Maine courts.

Mills also announced a new goal in the state’s effort to fight climate change. She is directing the state’s Energy Office to draft legislation requiring that 100% of the state’s electricity come from clean energy by 2040. The state’s goal has been to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2050.

“By accelerating our pace toward 100% clean energy, we will reduce costs for Maine people, create new jobs and career opportunities that strengthen our economy, and protect us from the ravages of climate change,” Mills said.

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