2017-07-12 / Op-Ed

Legislative Update

By Senator Tom Saviello District 17

Maine Legislature approves biennial budget with no new taxes

The biennial budget was approved by the Legislature and signed July 4. The budget, which requires 2/3 majority support, passed by a vote of 35-0 in the Senate and 147-2 in the House.

Reaching an agreement on comprehensive budget proposals always includes a significant amount of compromise, but the real winners of this budget are clear: our students and small businesses.

I am proud to say that for the first time ever, we will meet our obligation to fund education at 55 percent, and that the additional funding is targeted to better serve our students through meaningful education reform.

Thanks to Maine’s healthy economy, we were able to reach this milestone without the new surtax. From the very beginning, we knew that by making our students a priority, this could be accomplished within existing resources.

The budget also includes back pay for all essential and non-essential State employees impacted by the three-day government shut down, and: a full repeal of the surtax on Maine’s small businesses; an additional $162 million in education funding, achieving the 55 percent state contribution threshold for the first time; education reforms to put more resources into the classroom, particularly in rural Maine; property tax relief measures, including the restoration of the Homestead Exemption for all home owners; additional resources to serve Maine residents with disabilities.

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Offers business planning course for farmers

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry — Maine Farms for the Future Program and Jed Beach of FarmSmart Business Services will offer NxLevel Tilling the Soil of Opportunity, a six-session course to help Maine farmers take their businesses to the next level, in November. The six session course will help farmers update business goals, determine which crops to grow, evaluate markets, improve management skills, and more.

For more information, visit www.farmsmartmaine.com/ag-business-planning-class.html or contact Jed Beach at jed@farmsmartmaine.com or call 370-9238.

$18 million in unclaimed property returned to Mainers

The Office of the Treasurer, with the help of legislative offices, has shattered all records, returning just over $18 million in unclaimed property to Mainers in FY 2017. The previous record, set last year, was $16.1 million.

Every year, financial property is turned over to the Treasury by Maine businesses as a result of incorrect addresses, misspelled names and dormant accounts.

At present, the Treasurer’s unclaimed property database includes more than $232 million.

Fortunately, these properties can be claimed by the rightful owners through the Treasurer’s office at any time by going to www.maine.gov/upsearch, where you can search and file a claim.

Statewide bond referendum approved by voters

June 13, voters approved a statewide bond issue on the Special Referendum Election, with 63,468 voters supporting the measure and 39,549 voters opposing the measure.

The question asked: “Do you favor a $50,000,000 bond issue to provide $45,000,000 in funds for investment in research, development and commercialization in the State to be used for infrastructure, equipment and technology upgrades that enable organizations to gain and hold market share, to increase revenues and to expand employment or preserve jobs for Maine people, to be awarded through a competitive process to Maine-based public and private entities, leveraging other funds in a one-to-one ratio and $5,000,000 in funds to create jobs and economic growth by lending to or investing in small businesses with the potential for significant growth and strong job creation?”

For more information, visit maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/results/index.html.

If you have any questions, please call me at 645-3420 or email me at drtom16@hotmail.com. Thank you for the pleasure of serving you as your District 17 Senator.

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