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Mills Tells Lawmakers Her Budget Is Sustainable, With No Tax Hikes

Robert F. Bukaty
/
Associated Press
Gov. Janet Mills delivers her State of the Budget address to the Legislature, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, at the State House in Augusta, Maine.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills told a joint convention of the Legislature Monday night that her budget is aimed at the future, and defended it against criticism that it is unsustainable. Mills said her budget is responsible, and provides needed investments in critical areas without raising taxes.

Those areas, Mills said, include health care, education and public safety. She said the state's economy is strong and that her budget is sustainable.

 

“There will be those who say this budget is government spending run amok, and there will be those who say we should spend more and more," Mills told lawmakers. "I respectfully disagree.”

 

And, she said, the budget plan meets another one of her important criteria: no tax hikes. “In this budget there are no tax increases. In this budget there are no gimmicks. In this budget three are no negative balances," Mills said. "This budget is pro-growth, it is pro-jobs, it is pro-people.”

 

But Mills has yet to convince Republican leaders at the State House, who say that the governor's plan relies on rosy economic projections and on too much "one-time" money.

 

“The numbers assume that this robust economy is going to stay at the same rate of growth that it has been, or maybe even increase,” said Senate Minority Leader Dana Dow, of Waldoboro.

 

And Dow's Republican counterpart in the House, Minority Leader Kathleen Dillingham, of Oxford, said Mills' address also left her unconvinced that the governor's plan will work going forward. “I still do question the sustainability. The number that she proposed doesn’t seem to take into account any legislative priorities.”

 

But Mills said the budget does address some priorities that Maine people approved at the ballot box, such as Medicaid expansion.

 

“Maine, I believe, is well positioned in the years to come," she said. "In short, this budget is sustainable. This budget is balanced as the Constitution requires. It makes responsible investments to tackle serious challenges facing the state and it honors the will of the people.”

 

The governor's proposal is just a starting point for the actual budget-writing process, which now gets underway.

 

 

 

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.