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Gov. Mills to release two-year budget proposal this week

Gov Mills Inauguration 2023-08847.jpg
Rebecca Conley
Maine Public
Gov. Janet Mills speaks at her inauguration ceremony, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, at the Civic Center in Augusta, Maine.

Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills will unveil her two-year budget proposal Wednesday, a spending plan that she says will continue initiatives she began during her first term.

Mills told Maine Public's call-in program Maine Calling that her budget plan will not contain major new items.

Instead, she says the proposal will fund ongoing initiatives such as the state's funding of local education costs at 55%, providing free meals to public school kids and investments in childcare.

"I think public education is an economic driver as well as a social demographic need for Maine," she says. "Having good schools attracts families to Maine. Childcare is also something we put in the current budget and something we also pumped up with federal funds in the past."

Once unveiled, the governor's proposal will be in the hands of the Maine Legislature, which can adopt parts of it, or overhaul it completely.

The House and Senate are controlled by Democrats, but Republicans could play an important role in shaping the final product, which must become law before July 1 to avoid a government shutdown.

Two years ago the Democratic majority passed a baseline budget on straight party lines to avoid the prospect of a shutdown, a move that angered Republicans. The parties then negotiated a supplemental spending plan that garnered super-majority support.

That option is available to Democrats this year, but they have not signaled whether they'll pursue it.

Mills, meanwhile, is expected to present her plan to the public through a budget address in February.