Maine governor wants a shield against Trump Medicaid cuts

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Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ administration wants to protect the state from potential federal Medicaid cuts with newly projected state revenues.

The Maine Revenue Forecast Committee projected $40 million of additional revenues for the 2020 fiscal year that ends on June 30. Mills proposed after the revenue revision Friday setting aside more money into the state’s Rainy Day Fund aimed at protecting Medicaid from reductions to the program the Trump administration is pursuing.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills wants to use projected higher state revenue as a bulwark against potential federal Medicaid cuts.

“The new forecast provides an opportunity to strengthen our ability to provide Maine people critical services in the face of emerging challenges and threats like a new proposal by the Trump administration that would tie states’ hands in financing their Medicaid programs,” Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said in a statement.

Mills made a $19 million deposit into the state’s Rainy Day Fund in a $7.8 billion 2020-21 budget signed last June. She proposed an additional $20 million Rainy Day Fund deposit when releasing her $126 million supplemental budget plan last month.

The Democratic governor is looking to shield the state’s Medicaid program from federal cuts just over two years after Maine voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum expanding Medicaid eligibility. The expansion, which was estimated to increase Maine’s Medicaid enrollee population by about 70,000, was held up by previous Gov. Paul LePage over funding concerns before Mills authorized the initiative in January 2019 shortly after assuming office.

The state’s revenue forecast panel increased its revenue forecast by $139 million for the next two-year budget cycle that would end in June 2023. Some on the committee voiced concerns though about that the state’s economic conditions could be hurt from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 depending on the impact of the virus.

“The Governor is following the impact of the coronavirus on the economy and on revenues and will be taking that into consideration as the Administration prepares its change package,” Mills press secretary Lindsay Crete said in a statement.

Maine’s general obligation bonds are rated AA and Aa2 by A&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service with stable outlooks, respectively. The Pine Tree State has around $376 million of outstanding GO debt, according to Moody’s.

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State budgets State of Maine Maine Janet Mills