AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills said Monday she asked two key advisory committees on economic forecasting and state revenues to meet earlier than normal as her administration plans for what’s expected to be a major budget crisis.
Many essential services funded by state government, from highways to schools to health care, face funding gaps because the coronavirus pandemic has left businesses closed and tens of thousands of Mainers out of work.
The Consensus Economic Forecasting Committee will be asked to meet in July, while the Legislature’s Revenue Forecasting Committee will meet in August. Both meetings are three months ahead of the normal schedule.
Mills, a Democrat, said she has also instructed all state departments to freeze non-emergency spending and hiring. She also renewed a call for the federal government to provide flexibility for states to use federal funding for revenue shortfalls.
“There is no question that the virus is impacting the state revenues; the real question ultimately is by how much?” she said.
“Similar to the mid-course adjustment we made in the supplemental, it makes sense to reconsider all expenditures and reserves knowing future revenues will be drastically lower,” Department of Administrative and Financial Services Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa said. “Saving now will minimize future disruptions to services Maine citizens rely on from us.”
The governor and Maine’s congressional delegation have said states will need help from the federal government to shore up finances.