Maine governor proposes $126.6M supplemental budget

February 3, 2020 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Democratic Gov. Janet Mills unveiled a nearly $127 million supplemental budget proposal on Monday that aims to hire more child welfare caseworkers and state troopers, boost funding for education and infrastructure improvements, and add another $20 million to the state’s rainy day fund.

Under the plan, the state would hire another 20 case workers and 14 state police officers, Mills said. The proposal would add funding for workforce training, education, wastewater treatment and highway improvements, she said.

“Public safety is important. Child welfare is important. Wastewater treatment and the roads are important. Those are all priorities,” she told reporters.

The goal, she said, was to focus on programs that promote health and safety, boost worker skills and economic development, and add to the rainy day fund.

The budget proposal would carry a price tag of $126.6 million on top of the two-year, $8 billion budget approved last year. Even with the extra spending, a surplus in revenue is anticipated, Mills said. There will be no new programs created by the proposal, nor will there be new taxes or fees, she added.

The largest single appropriation is an additional $37 million for pre-K-12 public education, raising the state’s share of education costs to 52%, putting the state closer to the 55% share mandated by state law.

Sen. Cathy Breen, a co-chairwoman of the appropriations committee, described the proposal as “targeted investments.”

“The governor’s supplemental budget proposal provides a good foundation for our committee to get started. I look forward to working with my colleagues and really dig into this proposal,” said Breen, D-Falmouth.

Dana Dow, Senate Republican leader, suggested it’d be better to put more money aside in the event of lean times down the road. He said the state controller indicates revenues are only 0.3% ahead of the budgeted amount.

“Even a slight downturn in the economy would wipe out this tiny cushion,” he said.