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Updated: March 2, 2020

State ups revenue forecast by $40M this year, may use the funds for MaineCare

Courtesy / Office of the Governor Positive revenue forecasts prompted Gov. Janet Mills to direct her administration to consider MaineCare improvements and protections.

The state last week revised its forecast for General Fund revenue upward by $139 million, including a projected additional $40 million in revenue for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Estimated revenue for 2020-21 increased another $34 million, and the state upped its estimate for 2022-23 by $65 million, according to a news release. In that fiscal year, General Fund revenue is anticipated to hit $8.5 billion.

“The state of Maine continues to be on solid financial footing,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a news release. “Last month, my administration presented a supplemental budget that invests in pressing, bipartisan priorities, including protecting the health and safety of Maine people, enhancing economic and workforce development, and building up the state’s budget stabilization fund. This new revenue projection strengthens the case for pursuing these important investments.”

With the new projection, Mills said she has directed her administration to consider two goals: improving MaineCare, the state's Medicaid program, in anticipation of reforms the Department of Health and Human Services is developing; and setting aside money in the budget stabilization fund to protect the program and its beneficiaries from potential federal funding cuts to it.

“I expect to submit a budget change package in the coming weeks to accomplish these goals,” she said.

The new forecast is “an opportunity to strengthen our ability to provide Maine people critical services in the face of emerging challenges and threats like a new proposal by the Trump administration that would tie states’ hands in financing their Medicaid programs,” Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said in the release.

The new set of projections, by the Maine Revenue Forecasting Committee, is one of two required each year by law. The forecast provides state government with an estimate of the tax revenues expected to be available for appropriation. 

The committee consists of several state officials, Legislature staff and a University of Maine System economist. The committee issues its estimates in collaboration with a separate, independent commission.

Mills’s first executive order a year ago directed the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to begin implementation of Medicaid expansion approved by Maine voters in November 2017, but repeatedly blocked by Gov. Paul LePage during his final year in office.

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