In an attempt to subvert the normal appropriations process, Gov. Janet Mills has threatened to veto a number of spending bills that were approved by the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee in its meeting on Tuesday.

The governor’s rationale is that the additional spending required by some of these bills would increase the state budget for next year beyond sustainable levels. In opposing these bills, the governor is repeating the same austerity rhetoric espoused by her predecessor, putting low taxes for the rich ahead of the needs of everyday Mainers.

The governor’s commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services wrote to the AFA Committee ahead of its vote and claimed “if the Legislature continues to spend, the administration likely will be forced to produce a biennial budget that will cut the very vital programs that the Legislature agreed to fund in previous years.”

This is undeniably false.

Not only is there still more than $900 million in the Budget Stabilization Fund, but the commissioner omits any mention of raising revenue to meet the moment. No one will be “forcing” cuts unless the governor refuses to consider new revenue. If the needs of Maine people exceed the revenue being collected, the correct response is to raise revenues, not cut services and make workers, families and communities worse off.

The Legislature has already shown its willingness to take this approach. Not only did it reject cuts to child care, housing, food assistance and health care for older Mainers that Gov. Mills proposed in February, it has voted several times to increase taxes on the wealthy, only to have these attempts blocked by the governor.


Only last week, Gov. Mills vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have raised taxes on the Mainers with the highest income. In 2021, she vetoed an increase to the real estate transfer tax, which would have targeted people buying the most expensive properties in the state. She has actively opposed bills to undo former Gov. Paul LePage’s tax cuts for the wealthy, which have cost the state billions in revenue, and her administration has urged legislators to oppose bills that would have restored the estate tax cut by LePage and opposed cracking down on corporate tax avoidance.

Somehow, the governor who now worries about uncertain costs in future years pushed to pass the “Dirigo” tax credit for businesses, which will grow from $5 million in this biennium to $112 million in the next. Last month, she allowed a $2 million tax credit for the owners of the Portland Sea Dogs to skip the appropriations process and be signed into law ahead of the very bills she’s now threatening to veto for being fiscally irresponsible.

Those bills include some very important priorities, from improving school nutrition to retaining direct care workers, boosting pre-apprenticeship funding and processing sexual assault kits. Around 80 bills are now threatened because of the governor’s prioritization of tax cuts and business subsidies over Maine people.

It is true that current projections show expenditures will exceed expected revenues in the next biennium. If those projections bear out, the Legislature and the governor will have to confront that. But cutting programs that shortchange Mainers is not the only solution.

Raising revenue – especially from the wealthiest Mainers who have the most ability to pay – is a solution that is popular with the public, enjoys broad support in the Legislature and allows the state to meet the ongoing needs of its residents. By dismissing this solution, the governor is doing the people of Maine a grave disservice and forcing unnecessary hardship.

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