AUGUSTA — Today, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, filed legislation to increase Maine’s revenue-sharing program to help municipalities fund local law enforcement, fire departments and emergency medical services. The proposal comes amid an ongoing crisis regarding emergency response professionals across the state, from emergency medical personnel to firefighters and law enforcement officers.
“All across the state, communities are struggling to attract, retain and support emergency response personnel. While I’ve heard that the increased funding from the full restoration of revenue sharing has helped, our firefighters, emergency medical departments and law enforcement still need additional help,” said President Jackson. “This proposal seeks to make sure that Maine families all across the state can count on folks showing up when they call 9-1-1 — something that is too important to be left up to chance.”
The proposal seeks to raise municipal revenue sharing from 5 percent to 7 percent. The municipal revenue sharing program returns a percentage of state revenue collected in each municipality to the local government to help stabilize property taxes by shifting the cost of essential services off property taxpayers. President Jackson is looking to include language in the legislation that would require the increased funds to go toward emergency response services.
“I commend Senator Jackson for being creative with a way to fund Emergency Medical Services. This is an issue that is important to the both of us,” said Scott Dow, Caribou Fire and Ambulance Department. “Senator Jackson’s idea can be what keeps first responders viable not only in Aroostook County but the entire state. The Blue Ribbon Commission that I serve on needs to consider this as a possible solution when making our recommendations.”
Earlier this year, the Maine Legislature established a Blue Ribbon Commission to Study Emergency Medical Services in the State to examine and make recommendations on the structure, support and delivery of emergency medical services in the State. This proposal is designed to support the work of the commission amid ongoing discussions.
The Maine Legislature also created a grant program — sponsored by Sen. Chip Curry, D-Belfast and cosponsored by President Jackson — to help EMS departments in rural areas recruit and retain workers, grow departments and better plan for the future.