Governor Mills’ Proposed $500 Cheques Will Benefit a Greater Number of Mainers Than Prior Relief Payments.

The idea would help almost 800,000 taxpayers, including 275,000 persons who were disqualified last year due to their status as retirees, self-employed, or small-business owners.

Mills administration officials said roughly 275,000 individuals who were not qualified for relief checks last year will benefit from her proposal to return half of $822 million revenue excess to 800,000 taxpayers in the form of $500 payments.

It was revealed on Friday by the Mills administration, along with other specifics about the $148 million in spending suggestions she presented Thursday night in her State of the Union address. Students who finished high school in 2020 and 2021, as well as those who will graduate in 2022 and 2023, will receive a $20 million plan to cover the cost of community college tuition for up to two years.

On Friday, the congressional budget arguments were already taking form, and Mills’ plans will need to survive them. In the next week, Mills is scheduled to publicly submit her budget plans.

As expected, doubts regarding who would be eligible for a new round of checks for Maine residents arose as soon as the proposal was announced.

More than half a million Mainers received $285 checks from the state last year. Only those who worked during the epidemic were eligible for the state’s “thank you” payments, which Mills referred to as “a small thank you.”

A group of around 800,000 people, including those reliant on social security or retirement income, the self-employed and some company owners, would be targeted by the governor’s proposal to issue $500 checks this time. According to the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, more married couples would be able to file their taxes jointly as a result of this change.

Governor Mills' Proposed $500 Cheques Will Benefit a Greater Number of Mainers Than Prior Relief Payments.

There would still be a monetary ceiling on who is eligible. As of Oct. 31, 2022, only those earning less than $75,000 per year as an individual or $150,000 per year as a household will be considered for the programme. A DAFS representative said cheques will be distributed on July 1 if the extra budget was approved.

To aid Mainers trying to keep up with record-high inflation, Gov. Janet Mills highlighted the assistance in her State of the State speech on Thursday. In fact, she ascribed the idea’s origins to the Republican Party.

Senate Minority Leader Jeff Timberlake and House budget leader (Rep.) Sawin Millett – many of my friends on the other side of the aisle have advocated for a return of half the excess to Maine citizens through direct checks,” Mills said. In my opinion, they’re correct.

The plan was met with scepticism by Republicans on Thursday night, even as they claimed credit for the prior rounds of inspections. Despite the fact that they had not yet endorsed the idea, they were open to and hoped for inclusion in discussions.

RELIEF FROM TAXES IS A GOAL FOR THE GOP.

A long-term tax cut was mentioned by both Timberlake and House Minority Leader Kathleen Dillingham, both from Turner.

‘We commend Gov. Mills’ agreement with our pledge to return Maine taxpayer surpluses,’ Timberlake said in a written statement. In spite of the fact that we haven’t had a chance to review the full contents of the proposed plan, any budget negotiations should focus on long-term solutions to make Maine a more affordable place to live.”

If the administration believes these increased tax receipts will continue, we should be contemplating a cut in income tax to allow Mainers to keep more of their money, not to enlarge government,” Dillingham said in a prepared statement. People who urgently need money should be given money online rather than face additional delays and fees if this idea is adopted.

Former governor Paul LePage, who is running for the Blaine House again and is expected to face Mills in the fall, championed efforts to reduce income taxes when the surplus was first projected in November. House and Senate Republican leaders then issued a joint statement highlighting the failure of those efforts.

According to Republican talking points, an earlier plan to exclude an extra $10,200 in state income taxes for persons who worked throughout the epidemic would have provided $300 million in income tax relief. They projected that this would have resulted in a yearly tax savings of $750 for the average taxpayer.

Several progressives criticised Mills’ plan as well.

It’s a chance to invest in unmet needs, such as mental health care and housing, paid family and medical leave, and measures to battle climate change, said Cate Blackford of the Maine People’s Alliance in a written statement. He was advised by her to focus any financial assistance on low-income families.

In its place, “(Mills) granted Republicans their entire request to pay back half the excess in cash,” stated she instead.

Mills appears to have expected some backlash from her left-wing supporters. “Progress” was cited 22 times in her 50-minute address on Thursday, which she ended by making fun of progressives. “Any idiot can burn down a barn, but it takes a smart carpenter to construct one.” Mills used this statement from former U.S. House Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas to set up her zingers.

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She went on, “Let’s construct that barn together — a robust shelter to weather any storm,” she said. The number of nails in your nail gun should not be a topic of discussion… Or are the shingles going to be paid for by the super-rich? Will Portland real estate developers want to build condominiums in the loft space? What about a union for the tenancy?

INITIAL OPPORTUNITIES

The government also provided the Press Herald with more information on other programmes that would be covered by her extra budget:

Hospitals and nursing homes would get $25 million in one-time assistance, including $6.8 million in general funds for hospitals and $7.5 million for nursing institutions.

In addition to the $10 million set aside last year, about $27 million in ongoing general revenues would be utilised to offer universal free school lunches.

The University of Maine System would receive a total of $7.9 million to avert or offset tuition increases.

An Education Stabilization Fund of $30 million would be part of a strategy to keep the state’s 55% share of public education spending in place.

• A bill supported by House Speaker Ryan Fecteau to raise the wages of child care employees would get a total of $12 million in funding.

Students and their families may learn to produce their own food by installing greenhouse structures in schools, and the $1.5 million in one-time general funds will be used to offer grants for the installation of long-lasting greenhouse structures.

In addition, Mills promised that by the year 2024, everyone in the state will have access to high-speed internet. Using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Maine Connectivity Authority is attempting to expand fibre optic cables throughout the state and boost access to other technologies, such as satellite or wireless, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Ben Goodman, a legislative liaison with the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, stated, “We believe it is an ambitious but feasible objective that every individual in Maine who wants to connect to high-speed internet will be able to do so by the end of 2024.”

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