Gov. Janet Mills will defend her two-year budget proposal and outline her views on Maine’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in her third major address to lawmakers on Tuesday.

The Democratic governor’s speech, normally the highest-profile formal event in a Maine legislative session, is airing at 7 p.m. although it was pre-recorded on Monday. Lawmakers will be watching from home and leading Republicans in the minority in both legislative chambers will have 3 minutes on the Maine Public stream to respond to the speech.

As the state faces a projected $650 million revenue shortfall over three years amid an uncertain recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Mills has proposed an $8.4 billion budget over two years that largely keeps spending flat but is $400 million over the last budget inked in 2019.

The spending plan has already been the subject of much debate in Augusta. After outcry from the business lobby, Mills walked back a plan to tax certain proceeds from federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, though it falls short of full conformity favored by Republicans. Advocates have decried cuts to anti-smoking programs and groups that fight domestic violence.

Pandemic restrictions have led to less action in the Maine Legislature than normal in 2021, though the chambers may meet in March to approve short-term spending and tax conformity measures, while the larger budget will likely take until spring.

Spending plans need two-thirds approval in both legislative chambers, so Republicans will have chances to affect them. They want to include permanent spending cuts in the budget and to revisit the emergency powers that Mills has used to manage the pandemic for nearly a year.

Mills’ office has said the governor would use tonight’s speech to “honor those who lost their lives to COVID-19, pay tribute to Maine people and businesses fighting to stem the tide of the pandemic, discuss the impact of the pandemic on public health and our economy, and share her vision for Maine’s recovery.”

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...