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Politics

Appropriations Committee Approves Bill Distributing Pandemic Relief Funds To Municipalities, Counties

Maine Legislature
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP file
The Maine State House is seen at sunrise, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a bill on Wednesday establishing how nearly half a billion dollars in pandemic stimulus for local governments will be distributed. The measure also sets accountability standards to ensure the money is spent the way Congress intended.

Finance Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa said the bill deals with American Rescue Plan funds for municipalities and counties. Some of the money will go directly to governmental units, but some will come to the state to redistribute. The bill gives her agency the flexibility to deal with any strings attached in the allocation to the local governments.

Figueroa said an additional bill is being developed for the nearly $1.3 billion allocated to state government.

“The governor intends to release a plan in the coming week that will outline how she believes the state can best use and leverage American Rescue Act funds,” she said.

Figueroa said the bonding priorities of the governor are now more focused because some of the state share is earmarked for infrastructure improvements. She said a bond package focused on transportation, the National Guard and ensuring more conservation and preservation of access to land in the state is being drafted and will be made public next week.

Figueroa told lawmakers when all the direct payments from the Rescue Act are made to organizations like hospitals, medical providers and schools, more than $6 billion will be coming into the state over the next two years.

The full Legislature will act on the measure next week.