Biennial Budget

After massive spending increase in biennial budget, Governor Mills wants more

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Governor Janet Mills released a supplemental budget proposal Monday that calls for $127 million in additional spending, which comes in addition to the nearly $8 billion biennial budget approved by lawmakers and the governor in 2019.

The supplemental spending package sends a limited amount to the state’s Rainy Day Fund while spending down most of the state’s existing surplus. The plan fails to address two of the state’s most pressing needs, including completely closing a $232 million annual transportation funding shortfall and eliminating all waitlists for disabled Mainers.

Some of the major spending items include:

·$2.6 million for more than 20 new positions within Department of Health and Human Services
·$2.6 million to address Medicaid Section 29 wait lists
·$1.9 million for 10 new state troopers
·$4.5 million for wastewater facility planning and construction grants
·$4.5 million to the Department of Environmental Protection to clean up sites polluted by hazardous substances
·$10 million for transportation funding
·$1 million on dam maintenance
·$6 million to repair state-owned properties
·$6.6 million to improve state internet security
·$3 million to boost funding for career and technical education schools
·$37 million for K-12 education funding, bringing Maine to 51.78 percent of education costs, still 3 percent shy of the 55 percent state education funding mandate

The plan calls for sending an additional $20 million to the Budget Stabilization Fund. If approved, Governor Mills will have added $50 million to the fund thus far in her tenure as governor compared to more than $900 million in new spending.

In total, the biennial budget approved by lawmakers in 2019 and the governor’s supplemental budget would result in net appropriations of $8.138 billion.

In addition to the spending plan, Governor Mills put forward a new bond package that focuses on broadband expansion and infrastructure improvements. The borrowing plan includes $15 million to expand access to broadband service in Maine and $100 million in transportation funding to help carry out the work outlined in the Department of Transportation’s recently released workplan.

Even with the $100 million transportation bond, the state would remain well shy of plugging the annual transportation funding shortfall. In addition, while the supplemental budget addresses needs on the state’s Section 29 wait list, more than 1,600 Mainers remain on the Section 21 wait lists as of October 1, 2019, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is the director of communications at Maine Policy Institute and the editor of The Maine Wire. He formerly served as a policy analyst at Maine Policy. Posik can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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