AUGUSTA, Maine – Gov. Janet Mills will bump up her proposal for inflation relief checks by $250 after a state commission estimated Maine would see a $411.6 million bump in revenues during the current two-year budget period.
The news came on the heels of a Tuesday meeting of the state’s revenue forecasting commission. Mills said she would use half of the increase to boost the overall check amount to $750 for 800,000 people. Those checks will begin to go out in July of this year, if her supplemental budget proposal that’s before the Legislature is approved.
While the governor plans to make use of the increased revenues, revenue forecasting committee members greeted the new projections with wariness. They saw potential economic uncertainty as inflation and global events affect prices of everyday goods and the effects of programs like stimulus checks taper off, lowering their long-term confidence in the new projections. David Gunter, an economist with Maine Revenue Services, pointed specifically to rising gas prices possibly dampening sales tax revenues in the near future.
The checks were the center of Republicans’ budget platform last year. But the party has begun advocating more for the money to be used to cut taxes, especially after former Gov. Paul LePage — Mills’ likely opponent in the fall gubernatorial election — began pushing the issue on the campaign trail.
Public hearings for Mills’ $850 million supplemental budget proposal are ongoing this week. The governor is expected to submit a change package that would include the increased relief checks later this month.