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Reaction to Gov. Janet Mills Virtual State of the Budget Address

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 12:22 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WAGM) - In her virtual State of the Budget Address, Governor Janet Mills declared her administrations focus on a number of key issues including health care, education, and the economy.

During Tuesday’s State of the Budget address, Governor Janet Mills focused on resilience and strength amid the pandemic. Adding her proposed budget has three basic goals.

“To beat back the pandemic to keep Maine people healthy and save lives; To fund education and to maintain a stable economy and get people back to work.”

Governor Mills is asking for an additional $30 million to expand broadband, an additional $6 million to increase the availability of childcare, and $45 million for K-12 education to make progress towards a minimum teacher salary of $40,000 possible and help school districts manage in-person, remote, and hybrid learning options during the pandemic.

“Talking about as we come out of the pandemic,” Jason Parent, CEO of ACAP, said. “Both protecting the safety net for Mainers which is critically important to our agency. But also helping to get Mainers in employment situations as we come out of the pandemic. A lot of our work at the Aroostook County Action Program is centered on just that.”

Both Senator Trey Stewart and Senate President Troy Jackson say there is still work to do.

“We’ve got a lot of time left still. We’re really still at the beginning phase of this,” Trey Stewart said. “But as far as the initial factors, the big deals that jump out of this, obviously the taxing of the PPP loans is a nonstarter for Republicans. Unless something is given up there, I don’t see it getting very far down the road in its current form.”

“You know the way that we’re going to be able to pick our economy back up and get back to normal,” Troy Jackson said. “Obviously getting people vaccinated but at the same time the legislature working hard and efficiently to break down barriers to help businesses get back on their feet.”

A full breakdown of the proposal can be found below. LINK TO FULL ADDRESS CAN BE FOUND HERE

These budgets include:

  • $3 million for the Health and Environmental Testing Lab, the Health Inspection Program, the Maine Immunization Program, and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program;
  • $5 million for COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and support services for people in quarantine;
  • $45 million in additional funds for K-12 public education, making progress toward a minimum teacher salary of $40,000 and helping school districts manage in-person, remote, and hybrid learning options during the pandemic. If approved, the increase will result in the highest level of state funding for education ever;
  • $6 million to fund Section 29 services for adults with developmental disabilities in their communities;
  • $25 million for the Medicaid Stabilization Fund to protect basic health care during this challenging time;
  • $45 million for MaineCare rate increases for nursing facilities, residential facilities for children and older Mainers, services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and other providers;
  • $7.5 million for mental health and substance use disorder, including community mental health and $2 million for our OPTIONS Initiative to dispatch mobile response teams to those communities that have high rates of drug overdoses — something that is more important than ever, given the increase in overdose deaths in Maine and the rest of the nation during the pandemic;
  • And $82 million in tax relief for all Maine small businesses who received the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, relief, including complete relief for 99.1% of them and significant but partial relief for the less than one percent of larger businesses that received more than $1 million dollars of PPP.

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