AUGUSTA, MAINE — Sarah Austin, tax and budget analyst at the Maine Center for Economic Policy, released the following statement in response to the state’s preliminary revenue reforecast, which anticipates an additional $922 million in state revenue over the next three years:
Our improved revenue picture is a story of what’s possible when policymakers take bold action to address the challenges that affect all of us. Over the past 14 months, our state has experienced an unprecedented public health and economic crisis. These expected revenue gains would not have been possible if it were not for federal stimulus unparalleled since the New Deal, which has brought $8.3 billion of relief funding to Maine through increased unemployment benefits, stimulus payments, expanded food and housing assistance, and funding to protect essential public services.
It’s safe to say that absent that bold policy intervention, the bottom would have fallen out of Maine’s economy, prompting even more hardship for families and communities.
This new revenue must be used to continue investing in Maine’s recovery and addressing the hardship and unmet needs that existed long before 2020. It can help fund core investments in public schools, the care workforce, and local services and infrastructure, as well as long-term needs such as addressing climate change and reducing economic and racial inequality. Lawmakers must also seek ways to use projected revenue gains to extend economy-boosting investments paid for with one-time federal funds.
While we should celebrate an improving revenue forecast, we must also continue to apply the lessons of the past year into the future: When policymakers act boldly and decisively to invest in people and communities, we can improve people’s lives. Additional revenue means we can keep our foot on the gas, to keep making investments for a more secure, healthy, and equitable future for all Mainers.