Governor Janet Mills Releases Maine Supplemental and Biennial Budgets
Governor Mills released both the Supplemental and the Biennial Budgets today. The Revenue Forecasting Committee has estimated a $650 million revenue shortfall in 2021 – 2023 combined. In his presentation to the Appropriations Committee on January 6th, Chris Nolan, Director of the Office of Fiscal and Program Review, provided materials showing an expected $150 million shortfall in Fiscal Year 2021. DAFS Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa and Senate Chair of the Appropriations Committee, Cathy Breen, have both suggested that they believe the Supplemental Budget will be relatively straightforward and, hopefully not contentious, to reach a bipartisan agreement to pass. Part of the Supplemental Budget will be the passage of the savings Governor Mills included in her $222 million curtailment order in August.
Governor Mills has made clear that her budget proposal will include no tax increases or new programs. In her budget press release today, Governor Mills outlined several areas in which she will be increasing spending, mostly in relation to the State’s response to COVID. The largest investments are in health care services to front line workers and the vulnerable consumers they serve, as well as K-12 education, and broadband expansion. The combined budgets add $61 million to the Budget Stabilization Fund, otherwise known as the Rainy Day Fund, across the three Fiscal Years to help the State weather the pandemic and as a hedge against future fiscal crises. If approved, these budgets would increase the Budget Stabilization Fund to more than $320 million.
The Governor’s complete proposals are available on the Bureau of the Budget website. The Governor’s letter to the Legislature regarding the budget submission is here (PDF). Once the full language is available, the Preti team with be reviewing each section seeking any opportunities or impacts on our clients.
More specifically, the budgets include:
- $3 million to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) to fund the Health and Environmental Testing Lab, the Health Inspection Program, the Maine Immunization Program, and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program (biennial);
- $5 million for Maine CDC for COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and support services for people who need to stay in isolation and quarantine (supplemental);
- To further fulfill the State’s commitment to vulnerable Maine people, $6 million to fund Section 29 services for adults with developmental disabilities in their homes and communities, adding 30 more slots per month (biennial); and $45 million for MaineCare rate increases for nursing facilities, residential facilities for children and older Mainers, services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and other providers as rates are renewed, per state and federal requirements (biennial);
- $7.5 million for mental health and substance use disorder services, including funds for community mental health and $2 million for the OPTIONS (Overdose Prevention Through Intensive Outreach, Naloxone and Safety) Initiative to dispatch mobile response teams in every Maine county to communities with high rates of drug overdoses (biennial);
- $45 million for K-12 public education, making progress toward a minimum teacher salary of $40,000 and allowing local districts to manage in-person, remote, and hybrid learning options during the pandemic. If approved, the increase in the State’s commitment to GPA from 51.78 to 51.83 percent will be the highest level of state funding for education ever (biennial); and
- $1.8 million to facilitate the expansion of broadband into areas with inadequate service (supplemental).
The Appropriations Committee is currently in the process of scheduling over the next couple weeks presentations by different parts of the Administration to provide background information to
the committee members, eight of whom are brand new to the committee. Supplemental Budget hearings are expected to be scheduled shortly after these administration briefings.
The Legislative Council has not yet publicly released information detailing the specifics of how public access to public hearings, work sessions, all the information provided to committee members, and quick and effective access to individual members will occur. Preti Flaherty has been directly involved in these discussions for months. We expect that there will be a need for those wishing to speak directly to the committee during the public hearings to pre-register through a legislatively controlled Zoom meeting, while those who are simply monitoring the committee hearings will watch on YouTube or listen to the traditional audio feed on the legislative website.
Once again, we will review the complete budgets for any provisions relevant to our clients and let you know as soon as we do. Please reach out to us with any questions.