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Public Hearings On Mills' Proposed Budget Set To Begin

Steve Mistler
/
Maine Public
Gov. Janet Mills unveils her $8 billion, two-year budget Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 at the State House.

Public hearings begin Monday on Gov. Janet Mill’s proposed $8 billion budget to run state government for the next two years, starting July 1. The hearings are expected to last for at least a month.

Lawmakers on the legislature's budget writing committee will begin hearing arguments for and against Mills’ proposal to increase state spending by about eleven percent. That reflects the increase in the cost of goods and services the state buys, but some spending is new.

Included in the package is $145 million to implement the voter-approved expansion of Medicaid. That alone is controversial because some lawmakers don't believe it's enough to cover the full cost.

Also contentious is Mills' proposal to raise the minimum yearly salary for teachers to $40,000 per year. Critics say the budget does not increase state subsidies to local schools enough to pay for the raise. And some Republican lawmakers say the programs and policies in the budget are unsustainable.

The hearings are scheduled through the end of March.

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