Governor Mills Says Maine is Standing on Solid Fiscal Footing
Governor Mills gave her State of the Budget address this week, stating that Maine is on solid fiscal footing, but still has challenges.
What is the State's Current Fiscal Position?
The address came just weeks after the Governor presented her $10.3 billion budget proposal that she says is balanced, will not raise taxes, and will leave the Rainy Day Fund untouched with a record high of more than $900 million. She says that money will help support Maine in the event of an economic downturn.
If we provide the human infrastructure - a strong healthcare system, good schools, housing, roads, child care, broadband - then the people of Maine will do the rest. And that is what this budget does - it carries forward what we promised to the people of Maine.
Included in the budget proposal are a number of initiatives that the Governor says will address some of the state's biggest issues.
What Are Some of the Issues the Governor Says She Wants to Address?
In response to the opioid epidemic, Governor Mills says she wants to increase Naloxone availability by 25% and build on expanding substance use treatment beds. In addition, she plans to double the number of OPTIONS Teams across the state. These groups of trained individuals who join law enforcement on substance use calls help lead people toward recovery.
Housing First is another initiative that's high on the Governor's priority list. A bill before the Legislature would enable the state to provide housing to those experiencing homelessness. Mills encouraged lawmakers to send it to her desk so she could sign it.
Is the Free Community College Initiative Going to Continue?
The Governor says she will also take steps to improve child welfare in the state, will continue the free community college program for another two years, and will further her mission to lower utility prices through the use of renewable energy. In addition, she wants to appoint more judges to help tackle a backlog of cases created by the pandemic.
Legislative Republicans responded to the Governor's speech by saying that the budget is too high, by about a billion dollars. Senate Republican Leader Harold 'Trey' Stewart and House Republican Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham released a statement that claims the budget 'exceeds a statutory limit contained in state law designed to prevent state government from spending beyond its means.'