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Gov. Mills Previews Major Spending Decisions Coming Up Next Month

AJ Higgins
Maine Public
Gov. Janet Mills

Gov. Janet Mills says she and the Legislature will have some major spending decisions to make next month. She will be proposing a supplemental state budget, legislation to allocate a billion dollars in federal pandemic relief funds and a bond package.

Mills says even with the influx of federal pandemic relief funds, there are more needs than money to address them. State revenues were re-projected upward earlier this week through budget year 2025.

While the projection for this year and next totals about $141 million, Mills says both the size and shape of her supplemental budget are a work in progress and will be guided by a few overall priorities.

“Where we can choose better results in public health, economic recovery, and education for instance, we know that there are gaps in all those areas that we will be able to fill now that we have the advantage of having additional revenue," she says.

Mills says she will be proposing her supplemental budget in May, but it may have to be changed once the federal government issues rules guiding how relief funds can be used.

“If some of the things we put out there end up not being allowed, we won’t do them obviously. But we want to give policy makers and the public an idea of where we think we can go with that money and how to best accomplish the results that elevate the lives of all Maine people," she says.

Mills says she has several goals she wants to accomplish with both of the spending bills.

“Things that will help the economy grow, will help our population succeed, will help people get back to work and help our young people be well educated, the citizens of tomorrow," she says.

The third proposal will be a bond issue that she says will include investments in modernizing heritage industries such as farming, fishing and forestry.

She also wants money for childcare facilities, career training programs, the National Guard and transportation but has yet to put a total on the amount of borrowing she will seek. The bond package may prove her toughest challenge because bonds require a two thirds vote of the legislature before they can be sent to the voters. Republicans have only shown interest in supporting a transportation bond.

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