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Maine Lawmakers Approve Supplemental Budget That Would Send Workers $300 Checks

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. Gov.-elect Paul LePage's transition team are working on a two-year state budget package. The Republican governor-elect promised a restructuring of state government during his campaign to eliminate waste and promote efficiency. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Both the Maine House and Senate have approved nearly a billion dollars in additional state spending over the next two years, including a boost in funding for local schools.

The bipartisan bill expands health care coverage by making more Mainers eligible for Medicaid and it lowers property taxes through several provisions, including direct payments to those who continued to work last year during the pandemic. Democratic Representative Teresa Pierce of Falmouth co-chairs the Appropriations Committee.

"For the people of Maine that worked throughout the pandemic, those Mainers who provided for use with services we needed to get through. This budget provides a $300 check to more than 500,000 workers who kept our economy afloat," Pierce says.

The legislation also provides funding to bring the state share of local school costs to 55%, a goal set by the voters but never met. The additional spending was made possible by state revenues that came in far above estimates. The legislature has yet to act on the allocation of more than a billion dollars in federal funds the state will receive under the American Rescue Act.

“We actually improve in the property tax fairness credit and we actually begin the start of getting to a 100% of the reimbursement of the homestead exemption. We are at 70% today, we will get to 73% in the second year," says Rep. Sawin Millett of Waterford, the lead Republican on the committee.

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