AFA Committee Votes On ARP Funding Bill Last NightLast night, the Legislature's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee voted out, along party lines, L.D. 1733, An Act To Provide Allocations for the Distribution of State Fiscal Recovery Funds. The bill, also referred to as the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, is the state's general blueprint for spending $1.1 billion dollars in federal relief money. While lawmakers agreed on the bulk of the spending, differences among Democrats and Republicans yielded a divided report.
The bill includes funding for workforce training and development; child care and housing; broadband expansion; water infrastructure projects; renewable energy; economic recovery grants for small businesses; agricultural and seafood processing; improving parks and campgrounds; subsidies to lower health care costs for businesses and their employees, among other items.
In June, MHCA testified in support of the proposal as it pertained to long term care workforce development, child care support, broadband and telehealth expansion, but also urged lawmakers to consider using ARP funds for facility MaineCare rate increases if needed.
The bill now heads to the full Legislature for a vote on Monday, July 19, 2021. Lawmakers must achieve 2/3 bipartisan support in order to implement the plan as emergency legislation, which takes effect immediately. In a statement released today by Governor Mills, she notes, “…the Committee vote was along party lines, likely previewing a similar partisan vote on the floor of both the House and Senate. Without a strong, bipartisan vote from 2/3 of the Legislature, this important bill loses its emergency nature and, as a result, would not take effect for ninety days, postponing the investment of millions of dollars…This delay would have a substantial and serious negative effect on Maine people, on Maine businesses, and on our economic recovery.”
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