With Memorial Day behind us, marking the unofficial kick-off of summer, and our work in the Legislature now completed, I want to take a moment to reflect on and offer additional information about some of the Legislature’s accomplishments that benefit Mainers.

Lori Gramlich Courtesy Photo

To help with the increasingly high costs of goods and services caused by global events like the war in Ukraine and the lingering effects of the pandemic, we approved measures that will provide direct relief to the people of Maine.

Thanks to a bipartisan supplemental budget passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor this spring, about 850,000 Mainers are eligible to receive $850 direct relief checks. That means the average Maine family will receive $1,700 in relief checks. Starting last week, 200,000 checks per week will be sent by mail to eligible Mainers.

To be eligible, individuals must file a 2021 state individual income tax return by Oct. 31, 2022, as a full-time Maine resident. Even though the 2021 filing deadline has passed, people who have not already filed can still do so between now and Oct. 31 for the purpose of claiming their $850 relief checks.

In addition, eligible filers must not be claimed as a dependent by another tax filer and must have a Federal Adjusted Gross Income of less than:

· $100,000 if filing single or if married and filing separately;


· $150,000 if filing as head of household;

· or $200,000 for couples filing jointly.

Our budget also provides income tax breaks for retirees, expands property tax relief and increases the Earned Income Tax Credit to help 100,000 working families make ends meet. This is great news for so many Mainers struggling due in part to the pandemic.

Investments in education are investments in Maine’s future. During this legislative session, we passed legislation to support Maine’s schools and bring down the cost of higher education. Our supplemental budget provides two years of free community college for all students in the high school graduating classes of 2020 through 2023. For too long, rising costs of college tuition have been a barrier for many. Community colleges in Maine offer an array of fields for students to pursue, including nursing, oral hygiene, criminal justice and the trades, to name a few.

Additionally, we passed legislation that freezes in-state tuition in the University of Maine System and created the Education Stabilization Fund, which will help to ensure the state continues to meet its obligation of funding 55 percent of public K-12 education costs. We also passed bills to support Maine’s career and technical education programs to help students train to fill gaps in our workforce.

A strong Maine economy relies on a healthy workforce, but far too many Mainers struggle with accessing affordable health care and prescription medications. In our community of Old Orchard Beach, I have heard from many residents who are struggling to pay for medications, food and rent. That is why I am proud that we were able to pass legislation aimed to lower the price of the costliest prescription medications for Mainers. This, in addition to our work to expand dental coverage to over 200,000 Mainers and assure children in Maine have prevention-based oral health screenings, will go a long way for so many throughout our state.


In addition to these important initiatives, we were also able to expand access to the Children’s Health Insurance Program to an additional 40,000 Maine children. And with growing concerns about our fractured mental health system, I am pleased to report that several proposals I introduced to assure that children’s behavioral health care needs are met were also included in our supplemental budget.

Finally, as we have seen firsthand, Maine’s shortage of affordable and available housing is affecting every community in our state. We have made great strides in addressing this fundamental need, namely by approving legislation sponsored by House Speaker Ryan Fecteau that allows Maine property owners to build accessory dwelling units in residential areas and up to two units on a lot zoned for single-family housing.

These accomplishments are the result of us working together in the Legislature to find common-ground solutions to improve the lives of Mainers – work that I am incredibly proud of.

If you have questions regarding the $850 direct relief checks approved by the Legislature, which begin rolling out last week, visit www.maine.gov/governor/mills/relief-checks. If you need to check the status, or need information on changing your address from what appears on your 2021 tax return, use this link: https://portal.maine.gov/refundstatus/payment.

If you need assistance with filing your income tax return, both AARP Maine and Maine Equal Justice are resources. For assistance in identifying free tax help, visit www.cashmaine.org, call 2-1-1, or visit 211maine.org.

As always, please feel welcome to reach out to me if I can be helpful. You can reach me at lori.gramlich@legislature.maine.gov. It is an honor to serve you.

Rep. Lori K. Gramlich, D-Old Orchard Beach, is serving her second term in the Maine House. She serves on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the Taxation Committee.

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