Legislature Approves Supplemental Budget

The House and Senate yesterday approved the $64 million supplemental budget, which had received unanimous approval from the Appropriations Committee earlier this week. The supplemental budget awaits the Governor’s signature and addresses state government needs through the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2017. The state’s “rainy day” fund will receive an infusion of $35 million. Nearly $5 million will fund a new initiative to provide treatment for approximately 400 individuals suffering with drug addiction, $5 million is appropriated for the University of Maine System to mitigate tuition rate increases, and the remainder will fund current programs.

Changes to Referendum Process under Consideration

The Legislature will consider numerous proposed amendments to the Maine Constitution to alter the process by which citizen initiatives reach the statewide ballot. One such proposal would significantly increase the number of signatures required for an issue to be placed on the ballot: from 10 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election to 15 percent of the votes cast in the last presidential election. Based on the number of votes cast in the most recent election, the requisite number of signatures for a referendum would be 112,189 in contrast to the 61,123 currently required. Other proposals under consideration would require that a certain number or percentage of signatures be obtained in different geographic sections of the state, such as the state’s 35 Senate districts, 16 counties, or two congressional districts. Another bill proposes to prohibit wildlife issues from being decided by referendum. Any measure proposing to amend the Maine constitution will require a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate, followed by majority vote at a statewide referendum.

Live and Work in Maine Rolls Out Job Website

In an effort to connect college students to Maine employers, Live and Work in Maine has launched a new website that lists available internships with Maine employers, as well as regular and temporary employment opportunities. There are currently more than 40 internships and 2,500 job listings on the website. The 2016 Internship and Co-op Survey completed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicates that more than 60 percent of the student interns accepted full-time jobs with the companies that provided them the internships. The site also provides information about programs offered in Maine to assist college graduates with paying their student debt, including Opportunity Maine and the Alfond Leaders student debt reduction program.

University of Maine System Board Nominees Confirmed

The Maine Senate this week confirmed three nominees to the Board of Trustees for the University of Maine System. Kelly A. Martin and the Honorable Karl W. Turner were reappointed to the Board, and Lisa Marchese Eames, Esq., was appointed to a first term.