Local legislators unanimous in backing state budget

By Stephen Betts | Jun 17, 2019
Source: File photo

Augusta — All Midcoast legislators voted Friday, June 14, in support of a two-year state budget that totals nearly $8 billion.

State Sens. David Miramant, D-Camden; and Dana Dow, R-Waldoboro, voted for the budget, which funds state government from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2021.

Reps. Pinny Beebe-Center, D-Rockland; Vicki Doudera, D-Camden; Ann Matlack, D-St. George; independent William Pluecker of Warren; independent Jeffrey Evangelos of Friendship; and Genevieve McDonald, D-Stonington, voted for the budget.

Both houses of the Legislature voted on the budget Friday.

The budget contains no tax increases or tax cuts. It increases the amount of revenues returned to municipalities, as well as boosting the homestead exemption from $20,000 to $25,000.

"This budget addresses many of the problems that voters sent us to work on," Miramant said. "We increased municipal revenue-sharing, job training and education funding. We put money into energy efficiency programs and supported a move to clean, renewable energy generation. We added workers at child protective services to make sure no children have to suffer when parents are not able to care for them. We made meaningful steps to reducing property taxes and did all this and more while not increasing income taxes and still leaving money in the rainy day fund."

Doudera said "We passed a budget that will truly move Maine forward, by boosting our workforce, creating a cleaner environment, and investing in broadband and rural economic development. The plan is responsible and sustainable, includes no tax increases, and delivers on key promises such as increased funds to our public schools and expanded access to health care. I’m particularly pleased that we will be able to bring much-needed property tax relief to our towns, with both increased revenue-sharing and a boost in the homestead exemption."

"There are so many important facets of the plan, with funding for programs and services that I know matter to many of us locally, such as the addition of more than 60 child protection workers to DHHS; a $1.5 million increase in state funding for Meals on Wheels; and more money for domestic violence services and programs that will help our older Mainers stay in their homes," Doudera said.

The Camden Democrat pointed out that it was her first budget process and said she is grateful and honored to be "working in a well-functioning, civil and bipartisan government."

Pluecker said it was an amazingly bipartisan process, with 99 percent of the votes in the Appropriations Committee unanimous. He said major successes were increased revenue- sharing with promises to increase it again the following year. Pluecker said this will result in an extra $115,000 for Warren, $43,000 for Union, $41,000 for Appleton, and $35,000 for Hope in 2020. He also cited the increase in the homestead exemption.

"And of huge importance to our elderly folks struggling to stay in their homes with the skyrocketing property taxes is an increase in the income allowance for the Property Tax Fairness credit. This credit comes in the form of an income tax return from the state. It is super important that if you know folks in our community who are struggling to get by, that they file income taxes, despite the fact they don't owe anything; they could still get a return of a portion of their property taxes from the state," Pluecker said.

Evangelos said "The budget was the product of hard work and compromise. The Legislature came together and raised the amount our towns will receive for municipal revenue-sharing, a key campaign promise I made. School funding was also increased. These two components, along with other credits for homeowners, will help on property taxes, another key promise delivered on. Separately, Gov. Mills is proposing an increased highway bond of $239 million. Anyone who has been riding our roads lately must realize the importance of this. Did we get everything we wanted? Of course not, but compared to the  nightmare we endured  two years ago with the LePage shutdown, this year was a dramatic shift forward in a positive direction."

Comments (1)
Posted by: Ian Emmott | Jun 17, 2019 09:32

20-25k in homestead is good, but with a looming re-assessment of property valuations I have a funny feeling I wont enjoy it for very long. Also Interested to see the numbers Rockland would receive for increased revenue sharing, that could be big for us.

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