Governor Mills also proposes “connections” bond package to expand broadband and continue rebuilding roads and bridges
Governor Janet Mills today presented the Legislature with a supplemental budget proposal that invests in bipartisan priorities, including continuing to rebuild state government to protect the health, safety, and well-being of Maine people, enhancing workforce and economic development efforts in the face of a tight labor market, and increasing the State’s Budget Stabilization Fund.
“The economic forecast and revenue projections are generally positive, with more than half of the projected revenue being one-time funds, permitting us to identify specific needs to present to the Legislature in the form of a supplemental budget. In preparing this proposal, we asked one question: what problems do we need to solve now to protect the safety and welfare of Maine people and the Maine economy?” said Governor Mills. “This supplemental budget reflects three bipartisan priorities: setting aside money in the State’s Rainy Day Fund to protect against an economic downturn; rebuilding and strengthening services that protect the health, safety and well-being of Maine families; and enhancing workforce and economic development to create a robust, skilled workforce that responds to the immediate needs of the educational and business community.”
Additionally, Governor Mills today proposed to the Legislature a “connections” bond package that includes $15 million to expand access to high-speed internet for Maine people and businesses, a top economic development priority for the Administration, and $100 million for transportation funding that the Maine Department of Transportation built into its recently-released workplan.
“This supplemental budget is balanced. It does not create new programs. It takes care that one-time monies are used to fulfill our obligation to fund schools, child welfare and public safety with existing programs, while leaving $6 million in unallocated funds to be dealt with by the legislature,” continued Governor Mills. “As the Legislature puts their own fingerprints on this document, I ask that they do so with caution and care, balancing the health and safety of Maine families and our workforce needs with the long-term health of the state.”
The complete supplemental budget can be read here. Highlights from the supplemental budget presented to the Legislature today include:
Saving For A Rainy Day: The supplemental budget proposes investing just over $20 million in the Budget Stabilization Fund (BSF). If the increase is approved by the Legislature, the Budget Stabilization Fund will have grown by more than $50 million since Governor Mills took office.
In addition to the increase in the BSF, the supplemental leaves $6.0 million on the table for the Legislature to consider and direct as it sees fit.
Rebuilding State Government: The Mills Administration has made rebuilding state government and enacting voter-approved laws a priority. This supplemental budget continues that work by calling for critical investments in vital state government infrastructure and personnel in order to protect the health, safety, and well-being of Maine people, including:
- $1.5 million for 20 new positions within the Department of Health and Human Services to respond quickly and effectively to reports of child abuse or neglect. These new positions build on the 62 the Mills Administration and the Legislature have previously approved, including frontline caseworkers who have now all been hired.
- $1.1 million to restore a forensic crisis team at the Department of Health and Human Services, scaled back by the previous administration, that will work in partnership with the Department of Public Safety to divert people with severe mental illness from jail and emergency rooms and transition those already in prison back into the community.
- $2.6 million to eliminate the current Section 29 waitlist as the Department of Health and Human Services seeks to overhaul and improve the range and flexibility of services for adults in Maine with developmental disabilities, brain injury and autism.
- $1.9 million for the Maine State Police to hire and deploy 10 new State Troopers and four Sergeants. Governor Mills requested this funding last year in her biennial budget, but it was rejected by the Legislature.
- $4.5 million for wastewater treatment facility planning and construction grants, as well as small community grants, through the Department of Environmental Protection to upgrade and modernize failing infrastructure that threatens public health and water quality. Governor Mills had proposed this last year as part of her initial bond package.
- $4.5 million for the Department of Environmental Protection to clean up sites polluted by abandoned hazardous substances and contaminants that threaten the environment and health of Maine people.
- $910,000 for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory to support its capacity to test for and isolate biological, chemical, or radiological hazards, such as lead, radiation or rabies.
- $4 million for the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management to restore and modernize Maine National Guard Armories in Westbrook, Augusta, and Lewiston so they can be mission-ready. Governor Mills had proposed this last year as part of her bond package.
- $10 million for the Department of Transportation to repair the State’s roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure to boost the economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The General Fund appropriation comes as the Blue Ribbon Commission To Study and Recommend Funding Solutions for the State’s Transportation Systems works to reach consensus on how to reform and adequately supplement funding for the State’s transportation infrastructure.
- $6 million for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services to repair and maintain state-owned properties in severe disrepair.
- $6.6 million for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services to enhance the State’s aging IT data security to better safeguard critical data entrusted to the State by the public from the constant threat of cyber-attacks.
- $1 million for the maintenance of structurally-deficient dams owned by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
- $3.6 million for the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to replace critical equipment, including a helicopter to fight forest fires, and to provide for new positions, such as a food inspectors and seasonal employees to help safely operate the state park system.
Enhancing Workforce and Economic Development: With Maine in serious need of a more robust, skilled workforce, the supplemental budget takes action to strengthen the State’s workforce and economic development efforts by providing funding for critical needs identified in the State’s new economic development plan, including:
- Raising the investment cap of the Maine Seed Capital Tax Credit from $5 million to $15 million at a cost of $1.3 million next Fiscal Year.
- $3 million to fund critical capital equipment for Career & Technical Education Centers (CTEs) across the state that train students in the trades. Governor Mills had proposed this funding as part of her initial bond package last year.
- $5 million for critical workforce needs, including short-term training through Maine Quality Centers, at Maine’s seven community colleges.
- $1.3 million for the Department of Labor’s Maine Apprenticeship Program, which works with employers to provide on-the-job training and classroom instruction to fill their workforce needs.
- $2.4 million to enhance Adult Education programming through the Department of Education.
- $3 million split evenly among the Departments of Economic and Community Development, Labor, and Education for use in existing programs and collaboration to begin establishing the Maine Career Exploration Program outlined in the economic development plan.
- $37 million for pre-K-12 education, raising the State’s contribution by one percent from 50.78 to 51.78 percent, another step towards the 55 percent in state law. With this increase, the Mills Administration has moved two percentage points from 49.77 percent since taking office.
- $6.8 million to restore the 3 percent increase proposed by Governor Mills last year, which was rejected by the Legislature, for the higher education systems to help stem tuition increases and invest in Maine students.
Fulfilling a promise from her State of the State Address, the supplemental budget also calls for a doubling from $50,000 to $100,000 of the State benefit provided to the families of fallen first responders.
The Fiscal Year 2020-2021 biennial budget, passed last year with two-thirds bipartisan support and signed into law by Governor Mills, set state appropriations at $8.012 billion. This supplemental proposal, which takes into account budget balances from last year and projected revenue adds $126.6 million or 1.6 percent in net appropriations for a total of $8.138 billion. This proposal does not create any new programs, and of the net appropriations, 66 percent of the expenditures are one-time in nature and dedicated to existing programs, invested into the Budget Stabilization Fund, or contribute to the one percent increase in education funding. The Maine State Constitution requires that the State budget be balanced, as it is after this supplemental. Additionally, the Revenue Forecasting Commission projects that the revenues for Fiscal Year 22-23 will total $8.45 billion.
With the submission of the supplemental today, the Legislature will now have a substantial role in hearing, amending, and approving the proposal.