AUGUSTA — The legislature’s Appropriations Committee on Thursday night approved the nearly $125 million supplemental budget.
“We feel real strongly that the Democrat proposal would give relief to 160,000 Mainers who were hit with job loss during the pandemic,” said Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash.
That relief was provided in the form of a tax exemption for anyone who received unemployment benefits related to COVID-19. The total tax exemption is estimated to cost the state about $50 million.
“We had higher than expected state revenues as a result of liquor sales in the state. And we were able to use that money,” said Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth.
Following a lobbying effort by Maine business advocates, the Democrat-backed supplemental budget also provides a double tax benefit for all the small business owners who received COVID-19 relief in the form of the Paycheck Protection Program.
“We heard them and we delivered,” Breen said.
The bad news is that the legislature’s Republicans are threatening to derail the supplemental budget when it comes before the full legislature next week.
An effort to contact Senate Republicans for an interview Friday was unsuccessful. However, they provided a statement calling for an opportunity for further negotiations. The Republican statement also stated the Democrats left the bargaining session.
“The notion that Democrats somehow stopped negotiating is absurd,” Breen said. “Representative (Teresa) Pierce and I were literally sitting alone in the appropriations room after our colleagues. left.”
The full legislature is scheduled to meet at the Augusta Civic Center next week and vote on the supplemental budget. Because it’s emergency legislation, two-thirds of the members of both legislative chambers must vote in favor of it in order for it to be approved.