Maine Legislature passes strong, bipartisan two-year budget
AUGUSTA – The Maine House and Senate voted today to pass the bipartisan budget agreement reached by the Appropriations Committee, sending the budget to Governor’s desk to be signed into law. The vote was 104-38 in the House and 25-9 in the Senate in favor of passing the $7.98 billion two-year budget that prioritizes property tax relief, health care, workforce development, education, and climate change.
Senate President Troy Jackson and Speaker of the House Sara Gideon each released statements applauding the budget’s passage and thanked their colleagues for the hard work they put in to achieve a bipartisan agreement that was able to receive the support from two-thirds of the Legislature.
“The Maine Legislature passed a bipartisan budget that directly responds to the greatest needs of Maine people, small businesses and communities,” said President Jackson. “Both Sen. Breen and Rep. Gattine entered the budget process committed to reaching a fair, bipartisan compromise on a budget. And the results speak for themselves. This budget answers Maine taxpayers’ call for property tax relief without leaving towns in the lurch. It invests in workforce development and education to both fill gaps in our workforce ensure Maine children have the skills necessary for good-paying jobs. It also sets aside savings by adding to the Rainy Day Fund. This is what good government looks like – lawmakers working together to keep our promises to Maine people.”
“The budget passed by the Legislature today is one that all Mainers can be proud of. It increases access to health care, better funds our public schools, and brings desperately needed property tax relief to Mainers,” said Speaker Gideon. “We’re finally in a position as a State to look forward, to invest in our future, and follow through on the commitments we’ve made to Mainers. At the same time, this budget allows state government to meet its obligations while continuing to live within our means. I couldn’t be more grateful to Representative Gattine, Senator Cathy Breen, the Democrats on the Appropriations Committee, and all of the legislators and staff who put so much work into creating this bipartisan agreement .”
The budget will now move to Governor Janet Mills’ desk for her signature.
FY 2020-2012 Biennial Budget Highlights:
Total spending: $7.98 billion from the General Fund over the next two years. The proposal also adds $18 million to the Budget Stabilization Fund.
Property Tax Relief: The budget allocates an additional $75 million in property tax relief for hardworking Mainers, seniors, families, and small businesses on top of the governor’s proposal.
- The budget increases the Homestead Exemption by $5,000 to allow so Maine residents can exempt $25,000 from their property taxes.
- The budget expands eligibility for the Property Tax Fairness Credit to include an additional 13,000 more Mainers can get property tax relief.
- The budget increases revenue sharing from 2.5 percent to 3 percent next year, and almost 4 percent in the following year.
Health Care: Making health care more affordable and more accessible
- The budget fulfills promises to Maine people by sustainably funding MaineCare expansion. The budget allocates $125 million to be matched with nearly $700 million in federal funds for MaineCare Expansion.
- The budget allocates $5 million to support domestic violence and sexual assault services.
- The budget restores the low-cost drugs from Maine’s elderly program to cover an additional 800 Maine seniors.
- The budget adds 62 new Child Protection Workers to better protect Maine children from child abuse and provide relief to caseworkers with unmanageable caseloads.
- The budget funds $3 million for Child Development Services, which provides early intervention for young children.
- The budget supports efforts to combat the opioid crisis by funding prevention efforts and eliminating red tape that prevents people from getting help. This includes $5.5 million from the Fund for a Healthy Maine (FHM) to support prevention efforts, increases to the weekly rate for medication-assisted treatment and elimination of the 24-month limit for medication-assisted treatment.
- The budget also allocates an additional $5 million from the Fund for a Healthy Maine for smoking prevention and cessation.
Investing in Maine workers, young adults and children
Workforce Training and higher-education
- The budget includes $600,000 for adult education, $2 million for adult degree completion and $3 million for early college.
- The budget provides for a 3 percent increase for higher education and training programs – the Maine Community College System, the University of Maine System and Maine Maritime Academy – to help keep tuition fees down.
- The budget continues ongoing workforce training funding for the Maine Community College System to help fill critical gaps in the workforce.
- The budget allocates an additional $3 million for the Maine State Grant program.
K-12 public education
- The budget raises state share of education funding to just over 50 percent, which includes $111 million in new state support for local education.
- The budget paves the way for a $40,000 minimum teacher salary and reimburses towns at 100 percent to offset the cost on local budgets.
- The budget allocates $18 million in the School Revolving Loan Fund, which provides critical funding to repair crumbling school infrastructure.
- The budget funds initiative to feed more hungry school children. The program eliminates the reduced price lunch category and includes those school children in the free-lunch category.
Looking to the future: Infrastructure, energy, climate, and planning
- Broadband: The budget allocates $4 million to fund Department of Economic Development initiatives including broadband and rural development grants.
- Renewable energy: The budget supports a ten-year plan to triple in-state renewable energy generation sufficient to fully offset energy use in all sectors: electricity, heating, and transportation.
- Climate Council: The budget funds a comprehensive planning group charged with establishing policy initiatives and benchmarks to meet 30-year goals for climate emissions reductions.
- Office of Innovation and the Future: Provides $735,000 in funding for revitalized state planning integrated across state agencies.
- The budget also makes a significant investment in capital in the Marine Resources Department.