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Governor Mills signs proposal to spend $1B in federal pandemic stimulus funds

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 1:14 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A proposal to spend nearly $1 billion in federal pandemic stimulus funding was signed by Governor Mills Monday night.

It was approved by the Maine Legislature - but without the bipartisan support needed to go into effect immediately.

Governor Mills issued a statement Monday night saying she would have much preferred the latter but was also not convinced vetoing the bill would lead to a better result either.

Half of the $983 million plan focuses on infrastructure, including $150 million for broadband, $50 million for drinking and wastewater plants and $50 million for state parks.

The Governor’s full state can be viewed below.

Governor Janet Mills issued the following statement this evening after signing LD 1733, legislation to implement the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan:

“Last Friday, after the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee advanced LD 1733 along party lines, I asked the Legislature to continue working, to compromise, and to reach consensus so that the bill could reach my desk with the 2/3 support necessary for it to become law immediately. The people of Maine also expected a united front from this Legislature in putting these investments to work immediately and not ninety days from now. Unfortunately, to my disappointment, the Legislature opted not to pursue this path, despite the broad bipartisan agreement on most provisions within the bill.

“The question in front of me as governor this evening was whether to sign or to veto the bill. While I would have much preferred that it have the broad support needed to implement its investments immediately, given the Legislature’s failure to achieve any meaningful compromise prior to today’s vote, I was not convinced that vetoing it would lead to a better result for the people of Maine. Moreover, I was not interested in fomenting any further uncertainty around the plan’s investments with a veto.

“That is why, this evening, I signed the bill and will instruct my Administration to take all steps necessary to immediately advance its investments when it takes effect, in accordance with the intent of the Federal American Rescue Plan bill. Additionally, my Administration will continue to review additions and changes made by the Legislature and compare them against guidance and regulations of the U.S. Treasury Department to determine whether the various provisions of the bill will pass muster as an allowable use and whether they otherwise comport with State and Federal law.

“The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan – modeled on the advice of experts, backed by a wide coalition of organizations, and supported by funding from the American Rescue Plan – is likely the most transformational proposal of our lifetimes. Its initiatives — including funding for childcare, housing, broadband, health care subsidies, workforce training and economic recovery grants — tackle a range of serious issues that will help Maine people and businesses recover from the economic shock of the pandemic and address longstanding structural issues that have held our state back.

“Despite my disappointment over the delay in these investments and the unnecessarily partisan votes on the bill, I am pleased that the Legislature, both Democrats and Republicans, agreed on the vast majority of the important measures in this bill and, like them, I am pleased to see it become law.”

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