A $37 million budget proposal from Gov. Paul LePage includes a mix of spending cuts, tax breaks for certain people and the elimination of all funding for Maine Public Broadcasting Network.
Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett yesterday presented the budget to lawmakers, saying many of the contentious items had been taken out, according to the Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald. The budget proposal includes cutting general assistance reimbursement for larger municipalities, including Augusta, Bangor, Lewiston and Portland; that funding helps pay for services for people who need financial help to pay for housing, heat and other essentials. It also revives a proposal to scrap MPBN's $1.7 million in state funding, and cuts $2.4 million from Maine Maritime Academy, the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System. Additional spending is earmarked to fund tax exemptions for certain business equipment, an income tax cut on pensions and an income tax exemption for military members. The exemptions are expected to cost the state $28 million a year, but Millett said a renegotiation of the state's long-term liquor distribution contract is expected to make up the difference, according to the Press Herald.
The appropriations committee is scheduled to receive more information on the proposal today.