AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills will give a virtual budget speech later this month in lieu of the State of the State address typically delivered in person to legislators at the State House.
Democratic legislative leaders invited Mills to deliver a virtual State of the State address in late January. The Democratic governor responded in a letter on Wednesday, saying she would deliver a State of the Budget address next Tuesday at 7 p.m.
In recent years, Maine’s governor has delivered a State of the State address to both chambers of the Legislature in January or February. The same speeches have been called State of the Budget addresses in years after a governor wins office and delivers a two-year budget proposal, since they have already given a more general inaugural address around that time.
Mills’ choice to give a budget address highlights the projected $650 million shortfall the state is facing over three years due to the coronavirus pandemic. She has proposed a two-year budget at roughly $8.4 billion this year, which is mostly in line with current state spending but higher than the last budget passed in 2019. It rang in at just under $8 billion.
The governor’s first State of the State address in January 2020 outlined her agenda on key issues including climate change, health care and the opioid crisis. The pandemic arrived in Maine less than two months later, shifting focus away from many of those issues.
Mills’ office said she planned to pay tribute to Mainers who lost their lives to COVID-19 as well as those “fighting to stem the tide” of the pandemic, and discuss her vision for Maine’s recovery in her speech next week. It will air Tuesday night on Maine Public and on online streaming platforms.