AUGUSTA, MAINE — The Maine Center for Economic Policy applauds the passage today of the American Rescue Plan. This legislation is the kind of action the country needs now, when unemployed workers are still struggling to pay their bills, millions of families are falling further behind on rent and at risk of facing homelessness, and parents are worrying about how they will feed their children.
“MECEP thanks Sen. Angus King and Rep. Chellie Pingree for working hard to pass the American Rescue Plan and delivering the relief our state sorely needs,” said MECEP executive director Garrett Martin. “We are equally disappointed that Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Jared Golden opposed the plan; Had they prevailed, Mainers would have been left in the lurch without crucial relief during this unprecedented crisis.“
Maine will receive roughly $6 billion in relief from the plan, according to MECEP’s most recent analysis.1 The relief package included the following elements that will help Maine families struggling as a result of the economic fallout from COVID:
- Increased housing assistance and an extension of increased SNAP food benefits to help people families keep their homes and afford food;
- Extended pandemic unemployment assistance through September 6;
- Financial assistance to help people meet urgent expenses, such as rent, groceries, utility bills, and car payments, delivered through expanded tax credits and stimulus payments; and
- Improved access to affordable health coverage through enhanced premium tax credits for people with low incomes and middle-class families.
The package also includes much-needed state and local government fiscal relief to keep our communities going. These funds will help prevent layoffs of teachers, firefighters, and other critical public employees, fend off cuts to core services such education and health care, and help people who have been hit hardest by the pandemic and recession.
In addition, there are dedicated funds to support schools that can be used to pay for the cost of distance learning, safe in-person instruction, caring for the physical and mental health of returning students, and most importantly, aid with learning loss students have suffered.
“The American Rescue Plan provides much-needed but temporary relief. As we approach the one-year mark of the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, it has become increasingly clear that economic recovery isn’t going to happen overnight — particularly for people of color, who have waited longest in past recessions to see the gains from a rebounding job market,” Martin said. “We have more work to do to build a more equitable economy that works for everyone. We look forward to working with Maine’s congressional delegation to enact permanent policies that will reduce the longstanding inequities that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis.”
1That figure includes approximately $2.2 billion in direct payments to families through economic impact payments and expanded tax credits; $1.7 billion in fiscal relief to state and local governments; $900 million for unemployment assistance; $500 million for education; $300 million for food and housing assistance; $200 million for child care; and $200 million for health care. Businesses and nonprofits will have access to $79 billion in federal grants and loans included as part of the relief package.