Committees begin review of governor’s supplemental budget

February 28, 2022 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Legislature is poised to begin a series of hearings on Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ supplemental budget that returns half of a projected $822 million surplus to residents.

The Health and Human Services Committee is holding hearings on the proposal on Monday. Those will be followed by hearings over more than a week, wrapping up on March 8.

The cornerstone of her supplemental budget is the proposal to provide half the surplus — $411 million — back to residents.

On education, she proposed $20 million to provide free community college for all students from the high school graduating classes of 2020 through 2023, while boosting higher education spending so the University of Maine System can keep tuition flat for Maine residents.

Her budget also would fully fund free lunch school meals and increase pay for child care workers and early childhood educators.

On health care, she proposes spending $30 million to increase MaineCare rates, providing an additional $50 million for hospitals and nursing homes during the pandemic. She also would provide $8 million to improve the state’s child welfare system.