State forecasts revenue drop of $524 million in 2021; Governor issues statement

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 10:00am
    AUGUSTA – On July 29, the Revenue Forecasting Committee projected that State General Fund revenues will decrease by $524 million in Fiscal Year 2021, $434 million in Fiscal Year 2022, and $449 in Fiscal Year 2023 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Mills issued the following statement in response:
    “These numbers are more than statistical projections. They represent funding for vital services on which Maine people rely, from health care, to schools, to economic development. We know that we will face difficult decisions in the future, but these projections make one thing clear: additional aid and flexibility from the federal government for the states is necessary in order to preserve basic services and ensure the strongest possible economic recovery. I have joined with my Republican and Democratic counterparts from across the country to advocate for this critical support through the National Governors Association for the good of our state and country. I hope Congress delivers.” 

    The Governor and Legislature revised the supplemental budget last spring, and the Governor instructed all departments to apply an emergency-basis scrutiny to spending and hiring.

    The current projected balance of $106 million in unappropriated surplus for the current biennium will offset the July 29 updated revenues, resulting in a projected reduction of $418 million over the biennium, according to a news release from the Governor’s office.

    The Governor’s instruction to all departments of state government to apply an emergency-basis scrutiny to spending and hiring remains in place, including freezing access to all unencumbered balances for Fiscal Year 2020. The Budget Stabilization Fund stands at $258 million, which is an increase of more than $50 million since the Governor took office.  

    The Administration has made no decision about another supplemental budget at this point. The Governor will review revenue reports, examine revenue forecasts, evaluate potential expenditure reduction options, monitor federal efforts to provide additional aid and flexibility to state governments and will confer with legislative leaders about next steps.   

    Governor Mills continues to urge Congress to provide additional direct support to states as well as flexibility with funding already authorized in order to continue to protect the public health and safety and to spearhead an economic recovery. Over the past several months, Governor Mill has joined other Governors through the National Governors Association in repeatedly calling on Congress to provide robust and flexible federal relief to offset expected revenue reductions that all states are seeing. Earlier today, Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Chair and Vice Chair of the NGA, respectively, issued the following statement regarding the need for federal aid to states: 

    National Governors Association Leadership Statement On Congressional Coronavirus Relief Negotiations

    Governors Larry Hogan of Maryland, the National Governors Association chair, and Andrew Cuomo of New York, the NGA vice chair, issued the following statement about the ongoing congressional coronavirus relief negotiations:

    “As leaders of states and territories, governors are battling the effects of COVID-19 on all fronts including protecting public health, assisting those struggling with unemployment, working to ensure access to education, and supporting our front-line health care workers.

    “Financial aid to states is one of the most important economic tools available to the federal government. While the Senate proposal is disappointing, we continue to believe there is significant common ground for an agreement that will help state and local governments.

    “Goldman Sachs analysts assert that the measures that Congress has passed to date will cover less than half the expected state shortfalls, even when combined with state rainy day funds. Moody’s Analytics has noted that without federal revenue replacement, state and local governments would need to cut more than $500 billion—shaving two full percentage points off the GDP and eliminating more than 3 million jobs.

    “Nearly every category of state and local revenue is experiencing pandemic-related losses. States and localities that rely on income taxes are seeing much lower revenue due to high unemployment. Sales tax income is also declining due to the sharp drop in consumer spending and store closures. Limited travel means less revenue from gasoline taxes for transportation projects.

    “We stand firm in our request for federal aid in the amount of $500 billion over the next three years. This will ensure a strong recovery for our nation. It is time for Congress to come together to help restore our nation’s health and economy.”