AUGUSTA – The Maine Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee met virtually on Wednesday to get an update on revenue projections and allocations of the COVID Relief Fund. Earlier this year, the federal government sent $1.25 billion in COVID relief to the state.
“To date, we have committed nearly $944 million of that $1.25 billion,” Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services said. “There is a remaining balance of 306.3 million dollars.”
Figueroa explained that more money is being allocated to schools.
“That would leave a balance not committed of approximately $130 million,” Figueroa said.
The Department of Health and Human Services also provided an update on MaineCare, which is Maine’s version of medicaid.
“We immediately made sure that members had access to testing, diagnostic and treatment services not just for our regular MaineCare population,” said Michelle Probert, director for the Office of MaineCare Services.
According to Luke Lazure, a health care policy analyst for the Legislature’s Office of Fiscal and Program Review, overall expenditures in the fourth quarter were down $27.5 million compared to last year.
“This is not totally unexpected,” Lazure said. “We did expect there to be some decrease due to COVID.”
Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development Heather Johnson said it was important to help businesses and non-profits.
“We also have a variety of other economic development type groups that are helping businesses and non-profits through this process.”
State department heads are expected to provide periodic updates on the status of the state’s finances as the pandemic continues.