Maine is expected to take in an additional $411 million in revenue through June 2023 and Gov. Janet Mills is proposing to give half of the increase back to taxpayers.

That would mean most Maine taxpayers would get a $750 check from the state this summer instead of  the $500 she previously proposed, as long as the Legislature goes along with the plan.

The state’s Revenue Forecasting Committee said Tuesday that it anticipates the increased revenue based on updated economic forecasts for the period and higher-than-expected tax receipts from individuals, companies and sales.

Mills said she wants half of the $411 million to go taxpayers in direct payments, mirroring her proposal for a previously projected $822 million surplus for the period.

Her office said Tuesday that Mills hasn’t yet decided what to recommend to lawmakers for the other $200 million, but with the first projected surplus, Mills outlined a budget plan that includes the direct checks, two years of free community college to recent high school graduates, overhauling the state’s student loan repayment program, providing additional aid to Maine hospitals and nursing homes, setting aside more money for the state’s rainy day fund and putting $100 million into fixing roads and bridges to avoid having to issue a transportation bond.

Lawmakers began reviewing budget plans this week and will need to factor in the higher-than-anticipated surplus as they work through spending plans for the next year.


Mills pitched her proposal for checks to taxpayers as bipartisan, saying the plan is “consistent with the calls of Republican lawmakers” to return surplus revenues to the people. However, some of those lawmakers have said that while they supported the plan that last year resulted in $285 checks being sent to more than a half-million Mainers, legislators should consider cutting tax rates and other moves that would provide longer-term relief.

The 2021 relief payments only went to people who worked during the pandemic, a bonus that Mills called “a little thank you” from the state.

Spokesmen for both House and Senate Republicans declined an interview request Tuesday, saying the news from the revenue committee was a surprise and they haven’t had time to discuss their plans for the additional surplus.

Mills said in a statement Tuesday that her proposal to send additional money to taxpayers will help Mainers who are dealing with rising prices.

Under the governor’s proposal, $750 checks would go to taxpayers, a group of about 800,000 people that includes those relying on social security or retirement income, the self-employed and certain business owners.

Eligibility would include an income limit. Only those earning less than $75,000 as individuals or $150,000 as a household and who file a tax return by Oct. 31, 2022, would qualify. If approved as part of the supplemental budget, checks would start being issued on July 1.


The revenue projections come at a time when oil prices have jumped, inflation has hit a 40-year high and the Russian invasion of the Ukraine creates even greater uncertainty in the world economy, said Kirsten Figueroa, commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.

State officials will watch economic conditions closely, Figueroa said, and “in the meantime, we will follow the advice of experts (and) economists and act prudently and cautiously, delivering much-needed relief to Maine people and maintaining a balanced budget.”


All of Mills’ budget proposals, including the surplus checks, need to survive the legislative budget negotiations over the coming months. The Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee began hearings on the proposed supplemental budget Monday.

The Revenue Forecasting Committee said it saw enough strength in the economy to project the additional revenues even though it had just issued a projection in December.

Christopher Nolan, director of the Office of Fiscal and Program Review and chairman of the committee, said the panel will meet again if economic and tax projections shift, but it isn’t otherwise scheduled to meet and issue its next revenue forecast until December.


He said the six-member committee has had to meet early before, most recently in the summer of 2020 because its previous report, issued in March, came out before the coronavirus pandemic hit in full force that spring.

The committee discussed concerns over the future course of the economy and some members are worried that it might be difficult to have much confidence in projections because of the rapid changes that already have taken place in state revenues, even though those updated projections have been positive for Maine’s budget.

“It’s certainly a concern that the forecasting committee met just a couple of months ago and we’ve already had considerable change,” Nolan said.

Staff Writer Penelope Overton contributed to this article.

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