In speech, Janet Mills proposes totally powering Maine with clear power by 2040
AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills used her Tuesday funds handle to unveil a smattering of recent proposals targeted on power and housing, together with one that might set a objective of getting 100% of Maine’s electrical energy come from renewables by 2040.
The Democratic governor’s $10.3 billion two-year funds proposal, launched final month, holds the road on earnings taxes whereas persevering with to fund Okay-12 training and municipal assist at statutory ranges lengthy unmet earlier than Mills’ tenure, whereas placing $400 million towards transportation in a bid to attract $1 billion in federal cash.
Whereas Mills has bought the plan as a status-quo one which leaves Maine’s document wet day fund untouched and rests on bipartisan concepts, legislative Republicans have criticized the measure for not containing a tax lower. Which will mark the key sticking level in talks across the funds between now and June, when the state’s fiscal yr ends.
“Our state stands on stable fiscal footing, and we’re ready to climate no matter financial challenges could come,” Mills stated in ready remarks. “The state of our funds is robust.”
Mills made information in her handle. The brand new power objective would change one set within the first yr of the governor’s tenure that aimed to transition Maine to all-renewable electrical energy by 2050. Roughly half of the ability consumed by Mainers comes from renewables now.
Within the Home chamber on Tuesday, few Republicans applauded when the governor laid out that objective, which is among the few objects that’s prone to come outdoors the funds course of. Democrats may move the change by themselves as a standalone measure.
The governor additionally supported a measure from Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, that might broaden a “Housing First” program utilized in Portland and different locations throughout the nation statewide. Below the invoice, the state would supply housing to tons of of people that lack it earlier than connecting them to psychological well being and substance use dysfunction remedy.
She rolled out numerous smaller packages as nicely, together with a 25 p.c enhance within the state’s purchases of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, a brand new complete plan for the embattled baby welfare system in partnership with advocacy teams and one other 4 judges to alleviate a significant backlog within the legal justice system.
Mills’ funds continues previous initiatives, together with cash to maintain offering college meals to all college students no matter earnings, free group school for latest high-school graduates and allocates an preliminary $46 million to fund a program handed final yr that freezes property taxes for seniors and is the topic of overhaul proposals within the Legislature now.
The governor neglected some precedence topics for lawmakers on either side of the aisle. She didn’t tip her hand on whether or not she could be open to the will of minority Republicans within the Legislature to chop earnings taxes. Progressives had been additionally hoping she would help a $400 million paid household and medical go away program earlier than lawmakers now, however she didn’t.
“We really feel like pencils have to be sharpened a bit of bit right here and we’d prefer to see a discount on this funds and a tax lower,” Home Minority Chief Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, informed reporters after the speech.
Whereas two-year budgets are usually handed by consensus in Augusta, Mills and the Democrats in control of Augusta may transfer by the top of March to advance their very own plan over Republican opposition, as they did in 2021 earlier than the doc was up to date by each events.
Although the governor has not promised a bipartisan funds, either side have stated they need one. Mills making an attempt for one on Tuesday, peppering her speech with references to her accomplishments approaching the heels of labor throughout get together strains.
“I look ahead to working with all of you within the coming months to enact a robust, bipartisan funds that’s worthy of the individuals we serve and that addresses our most urgent wants,” she stated.