AUGUSTA (WGME) — State lawmakers are still working on coming to a formal agreement on Gov. Janet Mills’ $8.7 billion two-year budget, but the Appropriations Committee has voted to approve several changes.
At a work session on Monday, they agreed to raise state funding for kindergarten to grade 12 public schools higher than ever before to 55 percent.
Teresa Pierce, House Chair of Appropriations and Financial Affairs, said the state values education and this is a long awaited move, especially seeing how education was impacted at the height of the pandemic.
“It’s been 17 years since the voters asked us to fund education at the state level at 55 percent,” she said.
“We did it yesterday. We moved it into the budget. Last year was rough. It was rough on teachers, kids, parents, everyone. The whole pandemic, everything, so coming out of that I think this is just another great moment where we can say we value it,” she said.
Pierce said the state had extra funding within the proposed budget so that’s how the state will be able to reach that 55 percent.
Meanwhile, some key issues Republicans are pushing for in this budget include things like real tax relief and support for telehealth services.
Specifically, they want to see a tax break for Mainers who have worked through the pandemic.
Both chambers are on schedule to be back in the State House working on the budget next week.