Maine lawmakers returned for the second session of the biennium this week, with several key pieces of legislation on the agenda, including healthcare, climate change and broadband access.
The state currently has a budget surplus. New spending or taxation would potentially be part of a supplemental budget measure.
“From expanding Medicaid to unveiling a new economic development strategy to embracing clean, renewable energy, our state has made significant progress this past year – but there is more to do,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a news release. “This session, I look forward to working with the Legislature to continue to tackle health insurance issues, to support quality early and adult education, to strengthen our economy and expand our workforce, and to protect Maine people from the impacts of climate change.
"By tackling these issues, Maine can and will continue to make progress for its people and future generations.”
In an article posted on the Portland Press Herald website, Republican legislative leaders said they would work to avoid unnecessary spending and focus on funding infrastructure without needing to borrow money.
“House Republicans want to make it clear that Maine’s most pressing needs should come first,” House Minority Leader Kathleen Dillingham, R-Oxford, said in a statement. “Forecasted monies should fund needs, not wants. They should help people that are struggling with real-life needs right now. Maine’s most pressing needs include our roads, nursing homes, direct care workers and people with disabilities on waitlists.”
Senate Majority Leader Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, said after last year’s defeat of a bonding proposal to fund broadband expansion, Democrats may consider using state surplus funds for that measure while also requiring matching investments from the private sector.
Mills said she would also be recalling several bills put on hold at the end of the last legislative session.
“By recalling these bills from my desk, the Legislature and I will have additional time to work together to amend them and to make sure that we arrive at a result that we all believe is workable and beneficial for Maine,” Mills said.