AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Democratic Gov. Janet Mills wants to use more than $1 billion in federal pandemic aid to help the state’s economy recover from the pandemic and address long-term infrastructure needs.
More than $540 million from the American Rescue Plan Act would be dedicated to infrastructure goals, such as fixing roads and bridges and building more affordable housing, the governor said.
The Maine Jobs & Recovery includes more than $300 million for long-term goals, such as attracting and retaining and training workers. Another $260 million would be dedicated to immediate needs, such as lowering health care costs for small businesses and replenishing the state’s unemployment trust fund, Mills said.
“This federal funding represents an unprecedented opportunity to address the longstanding challenges that have constrained our state’s ability to thrive over the years," Mills said.
The plan, which draws on a 10-year economic plan released in 2019, requires legislative approval and would likely need help from Republicans who were shut out of a party-line vote on the $8.4 billion budget in March.
Some of her proposals including road and highway improvements and expanded high-speed internet align with GOP goals.
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce praised the governor's plan. Dana Connors, president and CEO, said the governor already had a road map to draw upon for her spending proposal.
“They represent short-term investments that will result in long-term gains to Maine employers and their employees,” he said.
Laurie Lachance and Joshua Broder, co-chairs of the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee, also praised the proposal.
“By emphasizing investments in economic recovery, broadband, childcare, innovation and workforce development, Governor Mills has set the right priorities to support Maine’s people, while creating a strong foundation for economic growth,” said Broder, CEO of Tilson, and Lachance, president of Thomas College.