AUGUSTA, Maine — Lawmakers will have to wait until next month to get the details of Gov. Janet Mills’ supplemental budget proposal after she gives her annual State of the State address in person for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Feb. 10 speech comes after the Democratic governor gave a pre-recorded version of the annual speech virtually last year and at the start of a fraught reelection campaign between Mills and former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican.
The address is usually the most formal event of a legislative session, with guests mingling in the governor’s suite beforehand and the speech typically focused on the biggest priorities of the year. It’s unclear if all that pomp will return in 2022, since Mills’ office did not release logistical details of the speech while saying they will be available in the next few days.
In a statement, Mills said she will focus on the pandemic and economy in the address and that she looks forward to “paying tribute to Maine people, to discussing our shared challenges, and to charting our path to a better tomorrow.”
The governor’s speech should include details of her supplemental budget, which will make use of a projected $800 million revenue surplus through summer 2023. She plans to release the full spending proposal soon after the address.
Mills has not engaged much with LePage in their young campaign. On Thursday, the former governor’s campaign hit Mills for an unemployment rate that fell to 4.7 percent in December. That is the lowest point since the pandemic began. It also remains highest among New England states, though Maine typically lagged the region during LePage’s eight-year tenure.
The governor is not likely to wade into outright electoral politics in her speech, though it should contain an implicit argument for a second term.
Mills has not teased many details of her spending plan so far, aside from expressing interest in raising reimbursement rates for nursing homes and other medical providers and returning surplus money to Mainers in a potential place of agreement with Republicans. She has not specified an amount on the latter item.