The state’s biennial budget is headed to the full Legislature for a vote on Wednesday after members of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee reached a unanimous, bipartisan agreement on the $8.5 billion package on Sunday.

In a statement Sunday evening, Democratic leaders of the Legislature said the budget’s highlights include restoring municipal revenue sharing; expanding the property tax fairness credit to 83,000 Maine residents; strengthening the homestead exemption program; and funding 55 percent of K-12 public educations costs. It also adds $45 million to the School Revolving Renovation Fund so that schools can make critical health and safety upgrades, they said, and provides financial support for senior living facilities and direct care workers.

In addition, they said, the budget will make school breakfast and national school lunch programs available to all Maine students at no cost. It also will expand access to preventative dental care to an estimated 217,000 Mainers and fund a rate increase to ensure that Mainers with intellectual disabilities can access adequate services, the Democratic leaders said.

Following Sunday’s vote by the appropriations committee, Gov. Janet Mills issued a statement praising the agreement.

“From 55 percent school funding, to full revenue sharing, to increased property tax relief, to health care, and much more this budget makes important, meaningful, and historic progress for Maine people,” the governor said. “I applaud the members of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee for their hard work in reaching this unanimous, bipartisan agreement.”

If the Legislature approves the budget on Wednesday, it will take effect July 1 and run through June 30, 2023.

Maine Senate President Troy Jackson Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, said the proposed budget makes good on the Legislature’s commitment to Maine schools, property taxpayers and municipalities. In addition, it will provide a one-time hazard bonus to Mainers who worked through the pandemic. And Jackson said it will fund Maine nursing homes and senior living facilities so that the professionals who care for Mainers’ loved ones can continue their work.

“Leading up to this vote, our committee members worked every day to ensure the values of Maine people shape this budget,” said Rep. Teresa Pierce, D-Falmouth, House chairwoman of the committee. “We have gone through each line item of the budget carefully and the votes we took today reflect a strong, bipartisan agreement. That’s what Maine people want to see: bipartisan efforts to shape Maine’s recovery from COVID-19.”

Pierce said the budget proposal also recognizes dental care as health care and supports treatment options for substance abuse disorder.

Sen. Paul Davis, a Republican from Sangerville who serves on the appropriations committee, said he would be surprised if the budget were not passed on Wednesday by the full Legislature.

Sen. Paul Davis

“We worked very hard on this budget and there was compromise on both sides,” he said in an interview Sunday evening.

Davis said his Republican colleagues were especially pleased with the provision of the budget that will provide a one-time $300 bonus – or so-called hazard payment – to Mainers who worked during the pandemic. The provision will support more than 500,000 Mainers who worked in “unprecedented and hazardous circumstances during a once in a lifetime pandemic,” the Democratic leaders said in their statement.

The provision will cost around $150 million to fund, according to Davis. A Mainer earning $75,000 or less as an individual tax filer will receive $300, while joint filers making less than $150,000 will receive $600.

“I am pleased with the rest of the budget and I am going to do everything I can do to sell it,” Davis said.

Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, Senate chairwoman of the appropriations panel, said that “by working across the aisle,” the committee came up with a “responsible, bipartisan budget that makes critical investments in education, property tax relief, and land conservation while continuing to grow our Rainy Day Fund to historic highs.”

The budget deal adds a minimum of $60 million to the state’s rainy day fund, bringing the total to $328.2 million.

The budget also includes $40 million for the Land for Maine’s Future program and as well as funds for the cleanup of PFAS contamination.


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