As you know, improving the lives of all Mainers has been the focus of much of my work during my time in the Legislature. It’s not often we get the chance to pass something that impacts all of us in as many different ways as this year’s supplemental budget does. The budget delivers significant financial support to Mainers at a time when we’ve needed it most. We’re putting more money back into the pockets of older Mainers and bolstering support for vital health care needs in a variety of ways.

Most Mainers who receive Social Security get less than $1,000 a month to live on. This means it’s important that we take advantage of every opportunity to help Maine seniors save money. One big way this year’s budget does that is by increasing the annual income tax pension deduction from $10,000 to $25,000, which will grow $5,000 per year until the total deduction equals $35,000. This means Maine retirees won’t be taxed on the first $25,000 of their retirement income. Also, Social Security income remains fully tax-exempt in Maine.

In addition to this vital income tax break, older Mainers and working families will see even more relief through the expansion of the property tax fairness credit. People over 65 can receive a refundable tax credit of up to $1,500 per year, while eligible people under 65 can receive up to $1,000 per year.

In 2011, retired state workers and teachers were the target of unfair budget cuts that hurt their retirements. In this year’s supplemental budget, those workers will finally get a much-needed cost-of-living adjustment to their retirement payments.

On top of that, by now I’m sure you’ve heard about the $850 inflation relief checks that over 800,000 Mainers are eligible to receive. But did you know that retired workers and those receiving Social Security payments are also likely eligible? Even if you don’t usually file a tax return or owe Maine income tax, you can still receive the $850 relief payment, so long as you meet the other eligibility criteria. You have until Oct. 31 to file your Maine tax return and receive the relief check. If you have questions or need help preparing your 2021 Maine individual income tax form, CA$H Maine may be able to assist you. You can contact them at cashmaine.org or call our office at 207-287-1515, and we’ll connect you with the CA$H Maine location closest to you.

The supplemental budget doesn’t just help us all save money. It also helps older Mainers stay healthy. By investing in long-term care and in-home services, we’re able to provide critical support to those in need while giving back to the professionals who provide quality care for us.

I’m especially glad that we made key investments in nursing homes, residential care facilities and other providers. Health care workers who provide direct care to older Mainers will receive cost-of-living adjustments and a wage increase of at least 125% of minimum wage. This is a crucial step in helping folks get the care they need closer to home and making sure these dedicated workers get the pay and recognition they deserve. On top of all that, extra funding was given to reduce the waitlist for Mainers waiting to receive in-home services.

I think it’s amazing we were able to do all these great things while keeping the Rainy Day Fund at the highest it’s ever been in the history of our state: $492 million. This budget is a big win for Knox County and the rest of our great state. I am looking forward to talking more about it over the coming weeks.

If you have questions or just want to connect about legislation or a state agency, please reach out any time. My email is David.Miramant@legislature.maine.gov, and my office phone number is 207-287-1515. You can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/DaveForMaine. You can also sign up to receive my regular e-newsletter at mainesenate.org.

Sen. Dave Miramant (D – Knox), serves Senate District 12.

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