AUGUSTA — On Monday, Gov. Janet T. Mills signed a bill that makes a once-in-a-lifetime investment in Maine children, workers, families, businesses and communities. The legislation passed on a party-line vote in both the Senate and House. LD 1733, “An Act To Provide Allocations for the Distribution of State Fiscal Recovery Funds” uses unallocated federal funds directed to Maine through the American Rescue Plan.
“Today, Maine Senate Democrats voted in favor of a historic investment in Maine businesses and working families who experienced profound hardship and extraordinary tragedy throughout this pandemic. It will lift up the farmers and fishermen who have suffered greatly after the demand for local foods disappeared overnight when restaurants had to close their dining rooms, while also boosting small businesses all across the state. It will help Maine seniors and individuals with disabilities afford to stay in their homes while supporting family caregivers and working to build a robust direct care workforce. And, it will make long-overdue investments in our career technical education and workforce training programs, while also working to close gaps in our health care workforce and system,” said Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. “Unfortunately, my Republican colleagues voted against this transformational bill that would deliver property tax relief for seniors, good-paying jobs for Mainers, and health care for families. In politics, building consensus and knowing when to compromise is important, so long as you can live with the outcome. When it comes to racial justice, the rights and dignity of workers, access to health care, protecting our environment and supporting our seniors, Maine Senate Democrats will not back down.”
Republicans rejected the entire spending package, objecting to proposals that would help Maine seniors with property tax relief, address racial disparities in our public health system, attract and retain direct care workers, support family caregivers and use project labor agreements in the construction of some affordable housing projects.
“From the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, my colleagues and I have been on the ground in our communities listening to Mainers who have lost loved ones, who have lost their jobs, and who have nearly lost their businesses, and we’ve been working to connect them with resources and deliver some relief. That’s why I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to make a once-in-a-lifetime investment in Maine workers and businesses and in our communities, directing these funds where they will make the biggest difference,” said Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth. “LD 1733 makes critical investments in workforce development, child care, health care and infrastructure for both emerging and legacy home-grown industries that offer tremendous opportunities for growth. By passing 1733, Maine is poised not only to recover from the pandemic but to thrive in the long term.”
The federal American Rescue Plan Act provides $350 billion in emergency funding for eligible state, local, territorial and Tribal governments to respond to the COVID-19 emergency and bring back jobs. In total, the American Rescue Plan Act invests approximately $4.5 billion in Maine. Of this $4.5 billion, Congress has directly committed nearly $3.2 billion to various recovery efforts, including significant support for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, enhanced unemployment benefits, stimulus payments to families, and funds for businesses, Maine counties, municipalities, education, behavioral health, child care, and more. The remaining $983 million was allocated to the State of Maine to respond to the pandemic and support economic recovery.
LD 1733 will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die.