Council for a Strong America Priorities Included in Maine Budget
The Maine Legislature included top Council for a Strong America priorities in the 2022 state budget
Earlier this month, the Maine Legislature finalized the state budget for 2022. With help and support from members of Fight Crime: Invest In Kids, Mission: Readiness, and ReadyNation members, there were many “wins” in this year’s supplemental budget, and “off-the-Appropriations-table” funding for priorities that we all worked on together for many years.
Maine 2022 legislative victories
In the $1.2 billion supplemental budget:
$12 million in wage supports for child care providers. Starting in October, this will be a $200 monthly wage supplement for every Maine child care provider, thus raising average wages from $14.31 per hour to $15.46 per hour. This was the #1 priority of Maine’s early care and education Right from the Start Coalition, which is co-led by Maine State Director Kim Russell. This is also significant because it’s the first General Fund support for child care in Maine.
$27 million to fully fund free school meals (breakfast and lunch) for all Maine public school students.
$2.9 million to expand public PreK.
$1 million to support Parents As Teachers home visiting.
An additional $5 million for new child care construction and renovation grants, bringing this grant program to $15 million over 2021-22. (Grants can be used for program materials).
$3.2 million in General Fund dollars, which will leverage more than $9 million in Federal funding, to Expand Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) to provide comprehensive coverage to an additional 40,000 Maine kids.
$20 million for 2 years of free Community College for 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 high school graduates.
$30 million to keep the state’s commitment to fund 55 percent of public education costs.
Overhauls Student Loan Debt Repayment Program by providing an annual $2,500, or up to $25,000 lifetime, refundable tax credit benefit for student loan debt relief.
Nearly $8 million in one-time General Fund dollars to help the University of Maine System keep tuition flat for in-state students. This will help prevent tuition hikes across the University of Maine System
Funded “off-the-table” – not in the budget:
- $1.4M to expand Maine’s voluntary Early Childhood Consultation Program statewide to provide consultants dually trained in early care and education and mental health to support parents and providers to address challenging social, emotional, learning and development behaviors in children birth-age 8 in their care settings.