AUGUSTA – Today, Governor Janet T. Mills unveiled part two of the Biennial Budget proposal for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-2023 biennium. An overview of the part two budget proposal or “change package” will be available here.
The proposal comes after Maine’s nonpartisan Revenue Forecasting Committee (RFC) revised the State’s General Fund revenue forecast by approximately $939.9 million through FY 2022-2023, surpassing the amount of revenue that had been forecasted prior to the onset of the pandemic.
Presiding Officers and Chairs of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee released the following statements celebrating key legislative wins in the governor’s proposal:
Senate President Troy Jackson:
“Maine people have faced a year of unprecedented pain and extraordinary hardship. The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, but especially our kids. It’s why I’m thrilled that after years of fighting to fund public education and honor the will of Maine voters, the state is finally on track to meet the 55 percent threshold for K-12 public education funding. For me, this about doing right by our kids and their incredible teachers. This historic investment has been 17 years in the making and been approved twice at the ballot box. I’m so proud of my colleagues for never backing down, fighting for our kids and making good on that commitment.
“There is a lot for lawmakers to be excited about in this budget. Lawmakers have the opportunity to continue building on our property tax relief efforts, keeping our promises to Maine property taxpayers. This proposal expands the Property Tax Fairness Credit now and fully restores revenue sharing by 2023. It also builds on lawmakers’ efforts to support rural hospitals, invest in nursing homes and support working families.
“When we passed the current services budget back in March, we focused on keeping our basic commitments to Maine people, businesses and communities, providing certainty and stability. With this proposal, we have the opportunity to help Maine families and businesses rebuild so they are better off than before. As a state, we can’t keep doing the same thing time and again and expect different results. The state needs to react differently to help people that were barely holding on even before the pandemic.”
Speaker Ryan Fecteau:
“It is remarkable to see we can finally fully fund the $187 million necessary to meet the State’s obligation to cover 55 percent of K-12 education for the first time in Maine’s history. This is a historic change that Maine students will benefit from for generations. Maine voters asked us several times to make this happen and it has taken determination and hard work to get us here. I commend the Governor for her leadership on this. I’m thrilled to see a number of investments in this budget: increasing preventative dental coverage, help for older Maine renters and property owners, and funding for the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations.”
Senator Cathy Breen:
“Maine has made it through this public health crisis in good financial standing thanks to years of smart, responsible spending and saving. With this change package proposal, our approach will be no different. However, as someone who has continued to push for the state to fulfill its funding obligation to Maine schools as outlined in state law, I’m pleased to see that the governor has put $187 million towards public education allowing Maine to reach that 55 percent threshold. It’s long overdue and is the boost our kids, educators and communities deserve.
“With investments in property tax relief, public health, families and more, this proposal is a good starting point for the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee to begin our work. It’s clear that the needs of our state are great. Yet, we can’t stop planning for the future, which includes putting aside funds for emergencies. My colleagues and I will continue working together to take care of Maine workers, families, businesses and communities while keeping our state on this path towards economic recovery.”
Representative Teresa Pierce:
“I thank Governor Mills for delivering a thoughtful, fiscally responsible proposal that provides support to our towns and to education. I am heartened that we are finally meeting the state’s obligation to cover 55 percent of local education costs for the first time in Maine’s history. Students, teachers and communities all over the state will benefit greatly from this level of commitment.
“There are some areas in which we need to have further conversations such as addressing the needed funding for the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services, more treatment options for Substance Abuse Disorder, and a path to solving longtime challenges of Long Creek Youth Development Center. The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee will dig into the details and spend many hours focusing on how we can make this budget work best for Maine people. I look forward to the conversations and the hard work ahead of us as the Legislature weighs in on the final budget.”