PORTLAND, Maine — Editor's note: The video attached to this story was published March 11, 2022.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills announced several changes to the supplemental budget proposal Friday.
Of note, the governor proposed increasing her original bid to provide direct relief in the amount of $850 one-time checks to Maine taxpayers.
The increased amount is designed to offset findings from the Office of the Maine State Economist, which has estimated that inflation will cost the average Maine person approximately $560 more this year than last, the release states.
Funding for the direct-relief checks would come from more than half of the state's surplus. The governor initially proposed cutting $500 direct relief checks, then increased that amount to $750 on March 1.
"Inflation and increased oil and gas prices resulting from [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's invasion of Ukraine are hitting Maine people hard," Mills said. "This proposal will help Maine people grapple with these increased costs by putting money directly back into their pockets."
Paul LePage, who intends to run against Mills during the gubernatorial election in the fall, has repeatedly voiced his opposition to the direct-relief checks. LePage has argued that the state should move to make a more permanent tax cut.
"LePage has repeatedly called for a permanent income tax cut to provide permanent relief and make Maine more competitive. A permanent income tax cut would provide larger, long-term economic benefit for Maine people," Brent Littlefield wrote in a news release Friday on behalf of the LePage campaign in response to Mills' announcement.