Maine’s nonpartisan Revenue Forecast Committee cautioned the Legislature that the pandemic is making it hard to tell how much money the state will take in, despite projections of more than $800 million in additional revenue over the next two years.
Compared with original estimates for the 2022-23 budget, that’s the biggest increase in projected revenues since the late 1990s, said Michael Allen, the forecasting committee’s chair. But he said the country’s uncertain economic future means significant risks further down the road, the Portland Press Herald reported.
“We’re in a volatile environment. We’re confident in the next eight to 10 months,” Allen told the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.
There are lots of factors at play, Allen said, including COVID-19 and its variants, increasing inflation, stock market volatility, stalled supply chains and labor constraints.
Maine lawmakers will meet in January to decide how to allocate $822 million in additional revenue for the 2022-23 budget cycle, which began July 1.
Gov. Janet Mills has signaled she prioritizes helping citizens with pay for necessities like electricity, heat, gasoline and other bills through “direct financial assistance.”
Other lawmakers have suggested Mills reduce income taxes and return the money to taxpayers.