Public Hearings and Work Sessions
Yesterday morning AFA held public hearings for a pair of bills intended to further facilitate the distribution of American Rescue Plan Act funds (ARP).
LD 1697, An Act To Establish a Homeowner Assistance Fund Program and Provide for the Distribution of Funds
LD 1700, An Act To Provide Allocations for the Administration of State Fiscal Recovery Funds
LD 1697 allocates $50M in federal funds for the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) to be administered through the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. The HAF is intended to “prevent mortgage delinquencies and defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities or home energy services, and displacement of homeowners experiencing financial hardship…” (From the US Treasury)
LD 1700 provides $4.2M of ARP funds for the resources necessary to ensure the proper oversight, control and reporting of ARP funds within and throughout the state and the various organizations, agencies and municipalities for which the state serves as a pass through agent.
The committee reconvened in the afternoon to give both bills unanimous Ought to Pass reports.
ARP Guidance from the US Treasury
Monday, May 11, 2021 the US Treasury released the Interim Final Rule (IFR) that will serve as the primary guidance for the use of ARP funds. We continue to review this rule and calculate its impacts on Maine. If members have questions please let me know.
Tomorrow, Thursday, May 13 at 10:00AM, Appropriations holds a work session to take votes on unanimously agreed upon initiatives from the report back of the Health and Human Services committee.
It is important to note that any initiatives not yet considered have not been rejected but only not addressed at this time. This applies to all report backs from policy committees.
Friday at 1:00 PM AFA will meet to receive a full briefing from the Administration on the Governor’s change package to LD 221, the supplemental budget. An overview of this plan was released today and is discussed below.
Committee members will continue to caucus and discuss outstanding initiatives with the intention of announcing future work sessions.
Governor Mills announced her change package to address the supplemental budget this afternoon. Fueled by the recent reforecast of revenues there are a number of highlights:
- $187M to increase General Purpose Aid to local education to 55% for the first time
- $47M for the University of Maine System, Maine Community College System and Maine Maritime Academy for a 3% increase in both years and renovations to MMA’s Curtis Hall and $700K in funding for the UMS tick lab
- $20M to increase the Maine State Grant program from $1,000 to $2,500
- $50M to recapitalize the School Renovation Revolving Loan Fund
- $150M within MaineCare including $46M for the first round of provider rate increases based on the recently completed rate study by the Department of Health and Human Services
- $15.4M in one-time supplemental payments for hospitals and long-term care facilities
- $90M to be transferred to the MaineCare Stabilization Fund
- $1.3M to exempt the sale of menstrual products from the sales tax
- $32M to offset the lost revenue anticipated by forbidding the sale of flavored tobacco products
- $22M to improve the Property Tax Fairness Credit including a one-time boost in the maximum benefit from $750/$1,000 to $1,200/$1,500, and a permanent lowering of the percentage of income used for rent or mortgage in order to be eligible from 5% to 4%- increasing the effective eligibility to $83K
- $38M to conform with the tax changes made in the ARP including changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- $80M to increase Municipal Revenue Sharing to 4.5% in the upcoming fiscal year and to 5% in the last year of the biennium
- $40M to address PFAS chemicals, $15M for farmers, $15M for water clean up, $5M for testing, and $5M for disposal of waste
- $5M for the Municipal Culvert Program
- $5.5M in climate grants
- $6.8M for National Guard infrastructure, to be matched with $7.6M of federal funds
- $87M in capital construction to eliminate the “catch-up” maintenance, upkeep, and improvements at all Capitol area state facilities
- $18M transfer from the General Fund to the Highway Fund in addition to the millions in debt service already used to repay hundreds of millions in transportation bonds
- $52M transfer to the Budget Stabilization Fund
- $6.7M to repair and upgrade the Forest Service air fleet
- $4.1M for state owned dams
- $14M for the corrections medical contract
- $6M for the Tree Growth Tax Credit Program
- $875K for the State Museum to aid their return to the Cultural Building
- $1M for the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous, and Maine Tribal Populations
- A balance of $21M for other Legislative priorities
Details and language of the change package are expected to be shared at the work session on Friday afternoon.
That meeting as well as the others noted above will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.
Votes and discussions from meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.