It’s been a difficult two years for Maine. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people lost their jobs and many industries have suffered. This has put Mainers in a challenging position as we seek economic recovery.
Thankfully, our leaders in Augusta are committed to improving our economy and the lives of Maine’s working families to ensure that we’re thriving beyond pre-pandemic standards. Last year, Maine received $1 billion from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act, the COVID-19 stimulus package passed last March. That money is being allocated to several projects across the state as part of the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, designed to position our families, communities, and economy for growing prosperity in the years to come.
So what are some of the major highlights of the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan?
Affordable Homeownership and Rental Development: The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the growing affordable housing crisis in Maine. As people from all over the country invested in their own little piece of Vacationland, many Mainers have faced rising property taxes and a lack of affordable housing. The Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan allocates $50 million to expand housing options that are affordable to workers and their families to own or rent, through financing programs administered by MaineHousing that will build additional affordable housing units.
Maine Community College System Workforce Training Programs: Maine is investing $35 million to expand no-cost vocational training to 8,500 Mainers seeking to improve their skills or career opportunities in Maine industries negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including health care, clean energy, manufacturing, hospitality, education, computer technology, and trades. Funding will support student tuition costs, new equipment for training, and added staffing for project management, instruction, and learner navigation.
Health Insurance Premium Relief Program for Small Businesses: Insurance premiums for small business employers have risen drastically over the past few years, an issue worsened by the pandemic. The Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan invests $39 million into a program to assist small business owners with covering health insurance premiums for their employees. By providing affordable health insurance, small businesses can attract and retain workers.
Investing in Maine’s forestry sector: As we told you back in November, Maine has invested $20 million in the Forestry Recovery Initiative. This program will be used to recover from pandemic losses, upgrade equipment, develop new, sustainable products, and strengthen the supply chain.
For more information on the initiatives included in the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, click here.
These programs are a sound investment in our state. Mainers for Working Families is incredibly grateful to the Maine Legislature and the Mills Administration for their efforts to not only address the hardships of the pandemic, but to strengthen our communities and Maine’s future.