The Maine Legislature approves Back-to-Basics Budget
The Back-to-Basics Budget funds schools, rural health care and property tax relief
AUGUSTA – Today, the Maine Legislature adopted a responsible biennial budget that provides critical funding for schools, property tax relief, rural health care and nursing homes in a vote of 77-67 in the House and 20-14in the Senate. The Back-to-Basic Budget is a continuation of the bipartisan biennial budget that earned two-thirds support in both chambers in 2019. The budget will now go to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.
The Presiding Officers and Chairs of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee released the following statements lauding the passage of the efficient passage of the biennial budget:
Senate President Troy Jackson:
“After an unimaginably tough year for Mainers, lawmakers passed a responsible biennial budget that delivers for Maine students, parents, teachers, seniors and veterans when they need it most. School districts are already planning for the upcoming year. With this budget, they can better plan to reopen this fall in a way that’s safe for Maine students and teachers. Our seniors are counting on this budget so they can continue to access Meals on Wheels and the Prescription Drugs for the Elderly Program. The Back-to-Basics Budget keeps promises on property taxes while also funding nursing homes, health care coverage, rural hospitals and veterans homes.
“Mainers have experienced enough hardship. This Back-to-Basics Budget does right by Maine people by ensuring that the rug won’t be pulled out from them just as things are getting back to normal. More importantly, it makes clear that the members who voted for the Back-to-Basics Budget aren’t willing to play self-serving political games that only leave seniors, veterans, families, and children behind.”
House Speaker Ryan Fecteau:
“Reflecting on the resilience and the incredibly difficult decisions Maine people have faced this year, I’ve vowed that our work must provide the most stability, safety, and predictability possible for this state. That’s what we’ve done with this baseline budget. I understand what the upcoming summer season means to thousands of Maine businesses, to working families who are trying to rebuild their household finances, and for school districts, students, teachers and parents planning for the fall. That’s who I thought about through this process.”
Senator Cathy Breen:
“The Back-to-Basics Budget meets the unprecedented needs of this extraordinary moment. It’s a stable budget for incredibly unstable times. Our constituents sent us to Augusta to get Maine through this crisis. This budget is about supporting every business, every teacher, every health care worker, even every student that has been working so hard to get us back on track. By passing this budget now, the Legislature has given Maine people the predictability they need and ourselves the time we need to regain stable footing, plan for the future, and get back to growing our economy. This was the right thing to do, right now, for Maine.”
Representative Teresa Pierce:
“It is a crucial moment in our state’s recovery from the pandemic. We knew we had to meet this moment and act boldly. This provides for the continuation of essential services for all Mainers; it ensures Maine people can continue to rely on rural hospitals, nursing homes and health clinics during a public health crisis; it supports continued efforts to combat the opioid crisis; continues important efforts in putting people back to work; it delivers tax relief through the homestead exemption and there are no new taxes.”
The Back-to-Basics Budget will take effect 90 days after the Maine Legislature adjourns sine die. Maine lawmakers plan to adjourn sine die tonight to ensure that the budget takes effect before the end of the state fiscal year on July 1.
Presiding Officers will poll lawmakers tonight to reconvene on April 28. The Maine Senate approved a Joint Order today that will carry over all measures to the future special session and allow legislative committees to continue their work as previously scheduled. The House is expected to take up that Joint Order shortly.
The Back-to-Basics Budget keeps our promises on property tax relief.
- Under this budget, 54,000 Mainers can get property tax and/or rent relief through the Property Tax Fairness Tax Credit. The state returns a portion of property tax or rent to eligible Maine homeowners and renters when they file their income tax returns. Maine seniors can save up to $1,250 in property taxes and eligible working Mainers and families can save up to $750 on property taxes or rent.
- Under this budget, Maine homeowners can take $25,000 off the value of their home and only pay property taxes on the remaining amount through the Homestead Exemption Program. Towns will get 70 percent reimbursement from the state.
- Under this budget, Maine people and municipalities can count revenue sharing at 3.75 percent to stabilize property taxes and fund essential services. Historically, Maine returns a percentage of the revenue generated by sales and income tax back to cities and towns. The goal is to fund property tax relief by helping to pay for These local schools, police officers and other essential services.
The Back-to-Basics Budget keeps our children safe and supports Maine teachers and school districts as they prepare to reopen for in-person learning in the fall.
- School districts all across the state need to know what they are getting for funding now so they can plan to fully return to in-person instruction five-days a week in the fall. The “Back-to-Basics” budget adds $45 million for education, bringing the total share of state funding up to the highest level it’s been at 51.83 percent.
- The budget continues ongoing workforce training funding for the Maine Community College System to help fill critical gaps in the workforce.
The Back-to-Basics Budget supports rural hospitals and the health of Maine people.
- The budget invests in our rural hospitals, nursing homes, and health clinics so Maine people can continue to rely on them in a public health crisis.
- The budget funds the low-cost drugs from Maine’s elderly program providing relief to Maine seniors. The high cost of prescription drugs is harming our seniors, who need this medicine to survive. The budget funds another program that makes prescription drugs more affordable and accessible to our seniors.
- The budget prioritizes the safety of Maine children and families from violence. It allocates $5 million to domestic violence and sexual assault services and supports child protection workers. The goal is to better protect Maine children from child abuse, provide relief to caseworkers with unmanageable caseloads and step up for survivors of abuse and assault.