The Center Square | by Brent Addleman | January 12, 2023
(The Center Square) – Maine is looking to build on recent achievements in the governor’s newly proposed biennial budget proposal.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills unveiled the $10.3 billion fiscal year 2024-25 budget. The spending plan will not raise taxes or use any of the record-high $900 million rainy day fund. It builds on the state’s free community college initiative using taxpayer money, and has investments in housing, health care, and infrastructure.
“If we want to build a stronger, more prosperous state where opportunity is available to all, then we must invest in the infrastructure that supports our greatest asset: the people of Maine,” Mills said in a release. “From education at every level, to stable housing, to our health care system, to our transportation system, this budget proposal aims to strengthen what Maine people rely on every day to succeed – all while not raising taxes, living within our means, and protecting us against the possibility of a recession. Every budget I have offered has sought to give Maine people the tools and resources they need in a fiscally responsible manner, and this budget is no exception.”
If enacted, the fiscal document, according to the release, will extend the free community college program by two years, expand pre-K, build more housing, and strengthen the state’s health care system. The budget would invest in behavioral health, provide more services for older residents and those with disabilities, and child welfare.
Mills’ budget plan, according to the release, would feature infrastructure investments using federal funding to address issues with the state’s multimodal transportation system.
According to the release, a rich revenue forecast pushed the budget from $9.4 billion to $10.3 billion. The Revenue Forecasting Committee has projected the state will rake in $10.5 billion in revenue over the next two years. The committee also forecast revenues of $11.6 billion for fiscal years 2026-27.
Nick Murray, Maine Public Policy’s policy director, said Mills “continues to show she has no fiscal restrain” upon Wednesday’s release of the proposed budget.
“Piling on almost $1 billion in additional spending is not fiscally responsible,” Murray said in a release. “Mainers continues to be fleeced by inflation and one of the highest tax burdens in the country. Meanwhile, state government coffers have never been more flush with cash.”
Murray suggests Maine make “major structural reforms” to the budget in the current economy. He said asking taxpayers to “continue giving up so much of their hard-earned money to state government is irresponsible and out-of-touch.”