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November 29, 2023

State coffers will take in $265M more than planned during the next 2 years

The state of Maine now expects to have more money over the next four years than originally anticipated, and will soon have to figure out what to do with the surplus.

The Maine Revenue Forecasting Committee, a nonpartisan advisory group, on Monday increased its projection for the state's General Fund by $265 million through the end of the 2025 fiscal year. The committee also upped its forecast for the 2026-27 biennium by $257 million.

The Maine Constitution requires a balanced budget, which means the revenue adjustments will prompt Gov. Janet Mills to submit a supplemental budget for the Legislature to consider when it meets for the next session in January.

The state experienced significant revenue growth during the pandemic, and used some of the additional funds to provide financial assistance to Mainer in the form of emergency relief checks.

In February 2022, Mills proposed returning at least half of an $822 million surplus to taxpayers. The Revenue Forecasting Committee later increased its projection for that budget cycle, bringing it to over $1.2 billion. In addition to issuing $750 relief checks, the state used the surplus for a range of other uses, including the expansion of high-speed internet access and providing residents two years of free community college.

It's not yet clear what Mills or the Legislature have in mind for the current windfall.

General Fund revenues have plateaued since last year, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services warned in a news release Monday, and are now growing at less than 1% per year.

“We welcome this modest revenue growth,” said DAFS Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa. “Looking forward, the Administration will work with the Legislature to ensure the continued funding of programs previously approved by the Legislature and maintain the State of Maine’s fiscal stability over the long term.”

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November 29, 2023

I have a suggestion! How about some help for the small businesses (like under 20 employees) who have had to increase employee hourly rates just to keep their businesses going. With the bigger employers increasing their starting pay and benefit packages, it is harder and harder for small businesses to keep up.

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