MECEP statement on state surplus budget proposal

AUGUSTA, Maine — Garrett Martin, president & CEO at the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP), released the following statement in reaction to Gov. Mills’ proposed allocation of Maine’s supplemental budget funds:

“Maine is now projected to have over a billion dollars of available revenue that could make our state a better place to live and work. By fully investing this historic sum to strengthen and improve supports and services like child care, health insurance, and paid family and medical leave — and not just giving half of it away as one-time money — families, workers, and communities struggling to make ends meet would no longer have to imagine the way life could be if they had the resources they need. All Mainers, particularly our neighbors struggling the most, would be lifted up, and our entire state will be better for it.”

In addition to testimony on LD 1995 with further insight on proposed allocation of these dollars, Sarah Austin, MECEP director of policy and research, writes:

“While much of the proposal aims to help Mainers and service providers with higher costs of goods and materials, the dedication of half the available revenues to a rebate overlooks many unmet needs. Getting cash to households, particularly those with low income, is important to assist families with increasing costs of food, fuel, housing, and more, but there are better ways to target Mainers who need help the most and to build a stronger economy now and in the future.

A one-year increase of the state’s sales tax fairness credit by $500 would cost only $160 million while delivering the same benefit to individuals and families with the greatest need. Doing so alongside making the state’s $300 child credit refundable, a policy that costs $23 million per year, would ensure low-income families with children get more relief and would free up more resources to support vital services and the workers who provide them through programs and services including:

  • Paid family and medical leave program start-up costs
  • Restoration of MaineCare coverage for immigrants
  • Expansion of health insurance and mental health services for children
  • Raises for state workers who make an average of 15 percent less than their counterparts in the private sector
  • Expanded access to housing vouchers so more families have a safe, stable place to live
  • Increased reimbursement rates for behavioral health providers which help improve wages for this vital work force and improve availability of services to Mainers in need
  • Full cost of living adjustment for retired state workers and teachers

Gov. Mills takes this more targeted approach in her plan to expand the earned income tax credit and the property tax fairness credit. Together, these proposals boost incomes for families with low and moderate incomes by hundreds of dollars each year yet cost a fraction of the one-time payments the governor has proposed.”


Dan D’Ippolito