Gov. Janet Mills told business leaders in Portland that a deal on the state’s next two-year budget may be near.

Mills told the Portland Community Chamber of Commerce that she decided shortly after taking office in January to push for a budget that could attract bipartisan support, rather than pushing through a plan that relied on the backing of Democratic majorities in the Legislature.

The $8 billion two-year plan she laid out, Mills said, will do that, although lawmakers are still working out a deal on the spending package.

The budget “lives within our means and delivers what Maine people want,” Mills told the chamber’s “Eggs & Issues” breakfast meeting Wednesday. “This budget pays the bills, some long overdue.”

Mills also highlighted economic and workforce development efforts, saying she has directed state officials to draft a 10-year plan to address both issues. She expects the plan to be on her desk by fall.

And, Mills said, the $239 bond package she proposed this week will steer more money into economic development, largely through expanded broadband access, and worker training programs.

Finally, Mills lauded the state’s new law requiring companies with more than 10 employees to provide paid time off to workers for illnesses or family emergencies. Mills signed the bill this week, making Maine the first state to have a law that allows the sick time to be used for something other than personal illness.

She said the legislation, which also exempts seasonal businesses, is an example of good governance which shouldn’t impose too much of a burden on employers.


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