As anyone who how knows me is aware of, I am NOT a late night person. But I was pleased and honored last night to stay up until about 2 am to help pass the Maine Supplemental Budget at the Augusta Civic Center, which passed unanimously less one vote. It had to pass by a 2/3 majority in order to qualify as an emergency and go into effect immediately. In short, the supplemental is an adjustment to the 2020-2021 budget, which is passed in order to make adjustments to the original budget that reflects situations that arose subsequent to passing that budget last year. The major situation that had to be addressed was the financial costs of the pandemic to the people of Maine.
Following is what the supplemental passed last night includes:
Critical relief for 160,000 Mainers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic: The supplemental budget includes $47M to exempt unemployment benefits from state income taxes. Without this relief, Mainers who relied on unemployment benefits at some point during the pandemic would’ve been hit with $200-$500 per person in state income taxes.
Support for Maine businesses: The supplemental budget allocates $100M to exempt Maine businesses who accessed relief through the Paycheck Protection Program from state income taxes. This relief supports more than 28,000 businesses across the state.
Targeted relief to direct care service providers and nonprofit providers: The supplemental budget provides $30M in state and federal money to direct care service providers and behavioral health providers that did not get PPP funds, state grants or any other relief and have struggled to meet the needs of Maine people, especially as COVID-19-related mental health concerns increase. These funds target people who provide support through MaineCare sections 18, 20, 21, 29, 17, 28 and 65. The state will cover $10M of the funds and receive $20M in matching federal funds.
This is a good budget. The legislature heard your concerns and acted accordingly. And, for those of my friends who work in hospitality, the measures allowing an extension of the sale of alcohol to go, and the waiver of the liquor license fees for for next year also passed unanimously. The other restaurant/bar bills have not yet been voted on.