Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a supplemental budget into law Wednesday that includes $850 relief checks for most residents.
The budget had been approved by the state Legislature a day earlier.
Mills proposed returning more than half of the $1.2 billion budget to residents, and the Legislature’s appropriations committee unanimously adopted a bipartisan spending proposal with some changes.
The measure was approved 119-16 in the House and 32-2 in a strong show of bipartisanship on Tuesday.
“We have shown once again that through hard work, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents can come together to do what is right for Maine people — and that we can do so without the rancor or bitter partisanship that has divided Augusta in the past,” Mills said in a statement. "We may not be able to control inflation or global markets, but we can make sure that Maine people have what they need to grapple with these rising costs – and that is what we are doing. Today, I am here to say to Maine people: help is on the way. You are our greatest asset – and this budget delivers for you.”
Sign up for our Breaking newsletter to get the most urgent news stories in your inbox.
Now that Mills has signed the budget, the checks will be mailed to more than 850,000 Mainers as early as June.
The payments came as the state dealt with an unprecedented surplus that was revised upward several times in recent months thanks to federal funding and increased tax revenues.
In addition to paybacks to Maine residents, the budget includes $20 million to fund two years of free community college for eligible graduating high school students between 2020 and 2023. It also includes $60 million to address contamination from so-called forever chemicals including PFAS.
It would also provide property tax relief for older Mainers and lower income tenants and homeowners, and would boost income tax exemptions for retiree pensions. It also includes assistance to child care workers.
Mills said she listened to Republicans who wanted to return some of the money to taxpayers. The payments had bipartisan support as the nation deals with inflationary pressures.