Governor Janet Mills created the Economic Recovery Committee (ERC) to develop recommendations for reviving Maine’s economy. Since forming in early May, the full committee has met eight times and the various subcommittees have met over 60 times.
The ERC was charged with submitting two reports to the Governor. The first report, submitted on July 15, focused on how to stabilize and support Maine’s economy during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The second report is due in December and will focus on how to sustain and grow Maine’s economy.
The ERC made several recommendations to Governor Mills concerning the $1.2 billion in CARES Act funding the state has received from the federal government. The committee recommends spending $497 million on public health, childcare, education, and housing initiatives; another $430 million on employer grants, innovation, and workforce development; and another $165 million on expanding infrastructure improvements, such as broadband.
The committee also recommends that the state use $350 million to create an employer grant program to support businesses without requiring them to take on more debt—though the committee freely admits businesses need more money than the proposed $350 million. Their recommendation is loosely based on a model that is being implemented in New Hampshire.
ERC does not make any concrete recommendations on how the program should be handled or implemented. The report suggests that the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) and the Department of Economic and Community Development work together to create the program and that they consider using Maine financial institutions in disbursing the funds. The League’s Governmental Affairs Team will be tracking the development of this proposal.