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Committee Gives Unanimous Support To State Budget That Would Distribute $300 Relief Payments To Many Mainers

Maine State House
Robert F. Bukaty
The Maine State House is framed by spruce trees in Capitol Park, Friday, Dec. 10, 2010, in Augusta, Maine.

The state's biennial budget is moving out of committee and headed to the full Legislature.

The Legislature's budget-writing committee has given the proposal bipartisan support.

Chair of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, Sen. Cathy Breen, says she's "thrilled and delighted" that the committee voted unanimously to support the budget.

"We were really just able to give and take and figure out how to meet everybody's needs," said Breen.

The budget calls for funding general purpose aid to education at 55%, fully-funding revenue sharing with municipalities with an eye to provide property tax relief, and setting expectation that direct care workforce members would see a pay increase up to 125% of minimum wage across the board.

The budget will also include funding six staff members for the Maine Indigent Legal Services and four positions with the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations.

“There was widespread agreement that we needed to get those into this budget before we closed it,” Breen said. Neither provision was a part of the original budget proposed by the Mills Administration.

There's also a provision to send $300 checks to more than half a million Mainers who filed W2s last year. Those who are eligible to receive the money are individuals who made up to $75,000 and joint filers who made less than $150,000.

“We felt that it was important to recognize the many, many people who got up and went to work and were able to keep their jobs, but of course made a lot of sacrifices to do that during the pandemic," Breen said.

The legislature previously approved a similar one-time payment to people who were unemployed during the pandemic.

The proposed agreement will go before the full Legislature on Wednesday.