Gov. Janet Mills' supplemental budget proposal would add $127 million, a 1.6 percent increase, to the state's existing $8 billion budget for fiscal year 2020-21.
Mills said the additional spending would help provide better health and law enforcement services, a Portland Press Herald story noted. The proposal is now slated to go before lawmakers, after which public hearings will be held on it.
“As the Legislature puts their own fingerprints on this document, I ask they do so with some caution and great care,” Mills said, “balancing the health and safety of Maine families and our workforce needs with the long-term economic health of the state.”
In an email response to The Center Square, Jacob Posik, communications director for the Maine Heritage Policy Center, provided insights on the proposal.
“There is a supplemental budget because Maine currently has a projected surplus of roughly $120 million," Posik said. "Lawmakers have the options of spending these funds, saving them by transferring them to the rainy day fund (Budget Stabilization Fund) or returning them to taxpayers in the form of tax and fee reductions.”
He noted that there are other ways to address a projected budget surplus.
“There are some new taxes Mainers are now paying since we adopted our budget, including an online sales tax and increased taxes on specific tobacco products,” Posik said.
“The problem with the governor's supplemental budget is that it fails to address Maine's most pressing problems,” he added. “If a surplus is going to be spent instead of returned to taxpayers, the spending should, at the very least, solve a legitimate problem.
“Arguably the biggest problem facing our state is a $232 million annual transportation funding shortfall,” Posik said. "The supplemental budget unveiled by Governor Mills dedicates only $10 million of the surplus to transportation funding and proposes $100 million in new infrastructure-related borrowing. This is not a sustainable, long-term solution and does not adequately address the problem."