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Governor Mills Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan

by Sarah Skillin Woodard

In 2021, Congress approved $4.5 billion to Maine as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, and of that, $3.2 billion is dedicated for recovery efforts like bolstering public health, including COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, enhanced unemployment benefits, stimulus payments to families, business supports, and more. Maine’s Governor and Legislature have the discretion to spend the remaining $1.3 Billion. 

Governor Mills has released a two-part proposal for these discretionary funds. The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan outlines the Mills Administration’s priorities to reduce the significant toll of the COVID-19 pandemic while simultaneously addressing systemic challenges that have constrained the state’s ability to grow and thrive.

While there is much in her plan that might benefit nonprofits and the communities we serve, the Recovery Grants & Loan Guarantees program is especially promising. We will provide an update when the details of the program are released. 

Highlights of Part One of the Proposal

Goal 1: Immediate Economic Recovery ($260M)

  • Provide Recovery Grants & Loan Guarantees ($80M)
  • Lower Health Care Costs for Small Businesses ($39M)
  • Replenish the Unemployment Trust Fund ($80M)
  • Encourage Business Diversity ($3M)

Goal 2: Long-term Economic Growth ($305M)

Make Strategic Investments for Future Prosperity

  • Jumpstart Innovation ($80M)
  • Launch Health Workforce Initiative ($15M)
  • Create Clean Energy Partnerships: ($8M)

Expand and Strengthen Maine’s Workforce

  • Attract and Retain Workers ($18M)
  • Expand the Maine Career Exploration Program ($28M)
  • Create the Remote Worker Welcome Program ($5M)
  • Train Workers Through Maine’s CTEs & Higher Education Systems ($105M)
  • Advance Equity ($8M)
  • Connect Workers to Job Opportunities ($15M)

Regulatory Reform

  • Increase Licensing Efficiency ($8M)

Goal 3: Infrastructure Revitalization ($547M)

Build Out Family Infrastructure

  • Establish the Maine Connectivity Authority to Achieve Universally Available Broadband ($150M)
  • Build More Affordable Housing for Maine’s Workforce ($50M)
  • Save Money Through Energy Efficiency ($50M)
  • Expand Childcare & Early Childhood Infrastructure ($20M)

Highlights of Part Two of the Proposal

In 2004 and again in 2016, voters approved by ballot initiative the state requirement to fund public education at 55%. For the first time, Governor Mills included this funding in part two of her biennial budget proposal last week.

  • Revenue Sharing Restoration: This proposal fully restores municipal revenue sharing by 2023, which will support essential municipal services and help stabilize property taxes for Mainers. 
  • Expanded property tax relief: This proposal expands the Property Tax Fairness Credit by making more families eligible for property tax or rent relief. It also increases the credit to $1,500 for Maine seniors and $1,200 for working Maine families. 
  • Support for Maine Schools: Not only will the state finally meet its obligation to Maine schools by investing $187 million in general-purpose aid, the state adds $50 million to the School Revolving Renovation Fund, which provides no-interest loans for schools to make repairs. This includes upgrades to schools’ ventilation and HVAC systems, critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19.
  • Investments in rural hospitals and nursing homes: Part two of the budget supports rural hospitals, nursing homes, and residential care facilities that have been hit hard during this pandemic. By providing $15.4 million in short-term supplemental payments, the state can help them get through the pandemic.
  • Saving for the Future: Under this proposal, Maine lawmakers will grow the Rainy Day Fund to $319.9 million by adding $52 million. 

For questions related to the Governor’s Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, please reach out to Sarah Woodard, MANP’s Advocacy Director, swoodard@nonprofitmaine.org.

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