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MAINE

Maine

State Recovery Act Website: http://www.maine.gov/recovery/

Maine's state Recovery Act website scored 39 out of 100 possible points (ranking 28th) on Good Jobs First's updated 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus (Again). The state earned points for breaking down stimulus allocations into broad and narrow categories, and providing recipient jobs data.

For detailed scoring information, see the Maine appendix of Show Us the Stimulus (Again).

Coordination & Oversight

In February 2009, the governor named Ryan Low, Commissioner of the Department of Administrative & Financial Services, as the state's stimulus coordinator.

In March, Low issued a memorandum to departments on stimulus policy. It requires each agency to submit "baseline information" to the Budget Office regarding how each program will be impacted by ARRA funds. They are also required to submit "detailed accounting, reporting and internal control plan for each program receiving ARRA awards to identify: (1) their state and federal compliance and reporting requirements; (2) their proposed procedures to ensure compliance with these requirements, and (3) any issues resulting from the ARRA requirements that are currently unresolved (along with a plan for resolution)."

A bill was passed by the legislature in February requiring a review of all expenditures related to energy spending in the stimulus act by a special committee created earlier in the year.

The governor's office has gotten good press for its commitment to transparency. Low has stated that each department will be keeping separate accounts for stimulus funds. When agencies decide to spend the money, they have to file a financial order (a written request) which will have to be signed off on by the governor, Low, and State Budget Officer Ellen Schneiter. After being signed, the order will go through the Appropriations Committee which will comment on the order, but doesn't have the power to block it.

U.S. Senator Susan Collins of Maine has created her own website about the recovery act. Collins is the ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has been holding hearings on stimulus spending.

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine has posted recovery related resources on his website.

Policy Debates

Legislation to modernize the state law governing unemployment insurance was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Baldacci on April 16. According to the National Employment Law Project, Maine modernized its unemployment insurance policy by enacting legislation which stipulates the state must provide benefits to permanently laid-off workers who require skill upgrade training, and workers who must leave their job because of compelling family reasons such as domestic violence, spousal relocation, or illness and disability.

Due to declining revenues, Maine faces ongoing budget challenges, but was able to end fiscal year 2009 in the black. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, Maine faces a projected budget gap of $765.2 million or 21.6 percent for fiscal year 2011. Compared to the biennial budget for fiscal years 2008-09, the budget for 2010-11 will spend approximately $500 million less. In addition to spending cuts, the state approved fee increases, shortened work weeks for government employees, dipped into the state's rainy day fund, and used federal stimulus funds to address budget gaps.

Maine's Senate Republican leader, Kevin Raye, has argued against stimulus programs that would increase state government or support existing programs. Before the ARRA even passed, he argued the funds should instead be spent on infrastructure projects.

As states struggle to coordinate the Recovery Act's many disconnected funding "silos" for energy efficiency, renewable energy, green jobs, and workforce development, Maine has enacted a solution: the Efficiency Maine Trust.  The EMT will coordinate and/or consolidate Maine's Recovery Act funding streams -- $100 million over the two years -- to help ensure that the state captures permanent improvements in skills, wages, contractors, and efficiency. Rob Brown, executive director of Opportunity Maine, which began pushing this agenda last year before there was a Recovery Act, explains the new system recently signed into law.

Last updated on: 27 January, 2010

Quick Facts

Population:
1,316,456

Median Household Income:
$45,888

Unemployment Rate:
8.6%

Poverty Rate:
12.0%

Estimated Recovery Act Funding:
$1.1 billion

Resources

Opportunity Maine:

Stimulus Memo

Memo on the stimulus benefits for the industrial sector

Memo on Governor's strategy for workforce development stimulus funds

Bringing Home the Green Recovery: A User's Guide to the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

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