Also signs into law package of bills supporting Maine restaurants, bars, and distilleries

By Ramona du Houx

March 18, 2021

Augusta, MAINE – Governor Janet Mills signed the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 supplemental budget into law on March 18, 2021.

The bipartisan supplemental, which passed the Senate unanimously and the House by a vote of 139-1, provides State income tax relief to all Maine businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program funds and exempts unemployment benefits from State income taxes for approximately 160,000 Mainers.

“This supplemental budget is the result of a long and, at times, arduous debate. But ultimately it was sensible compromise on all sides that got it across the finish line,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Because of that, approximately 160,000 Maine people who received unemployment benefits and the 28,000 Maine businesses that received PPP funds will receive tax relief – important progress as we continue to fight the pandemic, keep Maine people healthy and vaccinate them as quickly as possible, and accelerate our economic recovery. I commend all parties and Democratic and Republican leadership for this bipartisan outcome.”

The Governor also signed into law a package of bills sponsored by Senator Louis Luchini (D-Ellsworth) that, in part, codifies into law Executive Orders she has issued supporting restaurants, bars and distilleries, which have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has hit Maine’s restaurants, bars, and distilleries hard, but through the difficulty, they have adapted with characteristic Maine grit and determination,” said Governor Mills. “My Administration, whether providing economic recovery grants or allowing to-go sales of alcohol, has done and will continue to do all we can to help them through this difficult time. I applaud Senator Luchini for spearheading these bipartisan bills through the Legislature. They will provide continued flexibility and relief to our critical hospitality industry.”

The Governor signed LD 205, “An Act To Extend the Ability of Restaurants and Bars To Serve Alcohol To Go,” LD 306 “An Act To Temporarily Waive Certain Requirements for Relicensing for Restaurants That Serve Liquor” and LD 307, “An Act To Expand the Market for Maine Liquor Manufacturers.”

“The pandemic has hit Maine’s hospitality industry particularly hard, especially restaurants, bars, breweries and distilleries. They’ve made major changes to keep their staff and customers safe, but they need help. These bills give them the room they need to find stable financial footing and keep their doors open,” said Sen. Luchini. 

Highlights of the bipartisan supplemental budget include:
  • Provides relief for 160,000 Mainers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic: The supplemental budget includes $47 million to exempt unemployment benefits from state income taxes for hardworking Mainers who lost their job through no fault of their own. This includes self-employed Mainers who saw their work dry up and Mainers who saw their workplaces close. Without this relief, Mainers who relied on unemployment benefits at some point during the pandemic would’ve been hit with $200-$500 per person in state taxes;
  • Provides relief for Maine businesses: The supplemental budget allocates $100 million to exempt Maine businesses who accessed relief through the Paycheck Protection Program from state income taxes. This relief would support more than 28,000 businesses across the state.
  • Provides relief for direct care workers and nonprofit providers: The supplemental budget provides $30 million in State and Federal money to the people who provide quality, compassionate care to Maine seniors, individuals with disabilities, and children. These funds target people who provide support through MaineCare sections 18, 20, 21, 29, 17, 28 and 65.
  • Invests in veterans’ services: The supplemental budget honors our servicemen and women by providing more than $100,000 in support for Maine veterans. These funds will help hire a homeless veterans coordinator and fund basic maintenance for veterans’ cemeteries.
  • Sets money aside for savings: The supplemental budget puts $8.2 million in the budget stabilization fund, also known as the “Rainy Day” fund, which will now have grown by more than $58 million during Governor Mills’ tenure.
  • Supports the Early College Aspirations program for working-class Mainers: The Aspirations Program provides eligible Maine high school students with an opportunity to receive academic credits toward a high school diploma, and an associate or baccalaureate-level degree, through enrollment and successful completion of college-level courses at approved Maine institutions.
  • Invests in a new Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System: This efficient new system, which improves DHHS’s ability to track and share data, will allow caseworkers to spend more time working directly with families.
  • Takes steps to address contamination from “forever chemicals”: The supplemental budget establishes a fund to address growing concerns with PFAS.
  • Promotes the construction of affordable housing in Maine: Language in the budget maximizes the value of Maine’s low income housing credit.

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