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Maine Built Up Savings Over The Past Few Years. COVID-19 Wiped Much Of That Out

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Updated at 9:52 p.m. ET Friday

This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

After a major blow to the economy, Maine was able to use the state's reserve funds to cover the $200 million shortfall for the fiscal year that ended on June 30. But that might not be an option for the new fiscal year.

Maine is projecting a $524 budget million deficit by mid-2021. That's lower than the $1.2 billion shortfall projected by Moody's Analytics, but the state's projection could still change.

Little information has been disclosed about the state's revenue situation since the state reported a $248 million dip in April. The legislature's budget committee has met infrequently since lawmakers adjourned in March — a month early due to concerns about spreading the virus.

Lawmakers have debated whether to come back into a special session this summer to allocate the state's $1.25 billion share of federal pandemic relief funds.

Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, has already set aside $35 million for tribal and local governments from those funds, but decisions about other allocations will be debated by the legislature.

As for future shortages, dealing with that will likely fall to the governor, who must propose a new budget in January. She's already asked most state agencies to submit ways they could cut their budgets by 10% if it comes down to it. And final decisions about potential cuts will ultimately be decided by the next crop of legislators selected by voters this November.

Steve Mistler is the chief political correspondent and statehouse bureau chief for Maine Public.

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