A man walks around the rear of the State House in Augusta on June 30, 2021. Credit: Troy R. Bennett

AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine is set to send 200,000 checks per week to residents beginning next week, with most residents set to receive their $850 payments by the end of July, Gov. Janet Mills’ office said on Wednesday.

About 858,000 Mainers are eligible for checks, which were approved as part of a bipartisan supplemental budget this spring. The checks, billed as a relief measure amid high inflation, are set to go out much faster than the state sent checks last fall despite initial concerns about a shortage of envelopes. Lawmakers agreed to a waiver on Tuesday to allow the state to begin sending them before the start of the 2023 fiscal year.

The checks, stemming from an idea initially floated by Republican lawmakers last fall, were by far the largest item in Mills’ supplemental budget. Her Republican opponent, former Gov. Paul LePage, has slammed them as a political stunt and a potential driver of inflation despite the support from other members of his party.

The checks will be sent via mail after the Department of Administrative and Financial Services raised concerns about the amount of programming needed to send checks via direct deposit as well as tax filers changing their banking information on file with the state.

Mainers are eligible to receive checks if they earned less than $100,000 in 2021, or $200,000 if filing jointly or $150,000 if a head of household. Unlike the $285 checks sent to more than 500,000 workers last fall, retirees and self-employed individuals are eligible for this round of checks.

But residents must have filed 2021 tax returns to claim a check, even if retired. Those who had not yet filed a tax return still can through the end of October.