AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine lawmakers are gathering on the eve of the new fiscal year. They are meeting without masks for the first time since the pandemic began.
The Maine House of Representatives voted to pass the $8.5 billion budget proposal that includes $300 for most workers.
The budget was then enacted by the Maine Senate and will now go to Gov. Janet Mills' desk for a signature.
“This budget is an historic investment in Maine people. By achieving 55 percent education funding and full revenue sharing, by increasing property tax relief and sending $300 in hazard pay to working Maine people, we are putting money back into the pockets of the people of this state and investing in a stronger, brighter future," Mills said in a statement after the vote Wednesday. "I know this legislative session has been particularly difficult because of the pandemic, and I want to applaud both Republicans and Democrats for working together in good-faith to negotiate a strong budget that we can enact immediately. I commend the Legislature, am grateful for their work on this budget, and look forward to signing it into law in the coming days.”
Mills has 10 days to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without her signature. As an emergency legislation, the measure would take effect immediately.
The votes coincided with new rules for masks. Face coverings are no longer required on the House and Senate floor.
Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash
"Today, the Maine Legislature sent a strong, bipartisan budget to the governor’s desk that makes good on long standing promises and obligations to the people of the state of Maine. It funds 55 percent of education funding for the first time since voters mandated it more than a decade ago, it prioritizes property tax relief for Maine families and seniors so they can afford to stay in their homes and in our communities, and returns $150 million to more than 500,000 extraordinary workers who showed up time and time again throughout the pandemic. After a year of uncertainty and hardship, this is the type of budget Maine families, communities and small businesses deserve. I’m so grateful to my colleagues on the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee for putting aside partisanship and making this happen."
Speaker of the House Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford
“Through this budget, we will usher in meaningful change, extending preventative dental care to over 200,000 Mainers. We will invest in Maine's workforce by supporting capital improvements to our career and technical education training centers. We will thank the workforce who kept our economy moving this year through hazard bonuses coming in December. Our state will continue to lead on access to voting, letting Mainers with disabilities and those over 65 opt-in to automatic absentee ballots. This is one of the strongest votes on a budget in my time in the Legislature. The bipartisan support for this budget is something we can be proud of."
Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, Chairwoman of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee
“This budget exemplifies what we can achieve when we work together in good faith and coalesce around a shared set of priorities. It makes critical investments in education, public health, our environment that are long overdue, and invests the future of our state,” By sending this budget to the governor’s desk, the Maine Legislature is sending a clear message to the people of the state of Maine: bipartisanship is alive and well in Augusta. By sending this budget to the governor’s desk, the Maine Legislature is sending a clear message to the people of the state of Maine: bipartisanship is alive and well in Augusta.”
Rep. Teresa Pierce, House Chairwoman of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee
“This budget makes historic investments in education and the environment. We are funding much-needed Career and Technical school capital upgrades that will help train Maine’s workforce. We are preventing tuition increases in our higher education system. We are ensuring no Maine child goes hungry at school. We are finally fulfilling the state’s commitment to Maine schools by funding 55 percent of K-12 public education costs. This marks the first time Maine has met the 55 percent threshold since voters passed a referendum in 2004. We are investing $40 million to conserve public lands through Land for Maine’s Future. In addition to these initiatives, we are maintaining strong fiscal responsibility, so we ensure the things we are doing today will be able to be sustained for years to come.”
This story will be updated.