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Politics

Mills Unveils Supplemental Budget Plan, Targeting Full Education Funding For The First Time

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Maine.gov

Maine Governor Janet Mills today touted a $187 million investment in public education as a central feature of her supplemental budget proposal.

The governor's plan would bring the state's next two-year budget to $8.8 billion and build on a baseline budget that Democrats in the Legislature passed in March.

Mills says the local education funding is long overdue because it brings the state's share to 55%, a threshold mandated by voters 17 years ago but never achieved in subsequent state budgets.

"I think it's a mission accomplished for the state of Maine that we've finally reached that goal," Mills said. "We've tinkered with it for years and we've never gotten close. And we're not only close today, we've gotten there."

Buoyed by better than expected revenues and a large slug of federal pandemic stimulus, the governor's proposal also increases reimbursement rates for MaineCare providers, highway funding and lowers property tax burdens.

The plan provides direct property tax relief for low- and middle-income families by expanding eligibility and the size of the rebate. But Mills says that increased education funding will also result in lower property taxes.

"Funding for General Purpose Aid for education will go to two places, your kid's classroom and your own pocketbook because it helps hold down property taxes dedicated to education," she said.

Last month, the state's revenue forecasting committee reported that revenues are projected to be $941 million more than expected over the next two years.

Mills said she's hopeful Republicans will sign onto the plan, although it's likely that they'll raise objections to spending increases that use one-time federal money.

The Legislature's budget committee is expected to begin vetting the proposal later this week.