Friday, May 3, 2024

Jane Pringle: Supplemental budget delivers on our commitment to Mainers

By State Rep. Jane Pringle

After many long days and nights working at the State House, the Legislature finally reached statutory adjournment for the two-year term. It culminated with my colleagues and I working throughout the night on April 17, considering and voting on measures that will improve the lives of residents across the state.

State Rep. Jane Pringle
One of our most significant achievements of the session was the passage of a fiscally responsible supplemental budget. This budget, built upon the historic investments we made in 2023, will allow the state to further address the challenges affecting communities like ours.

The supplemental budget provides a significant boost to our public K-12 education system. I am pleased that the state’s commitment to fund 55 percent of public education costs will continue.

Furthermore, the budget includes language to support future wage increases for educational technicians and other school support staff, ensuring more equitable pay for the professionals who are invaluable to our students’ success. This will fortify the academic foundation of Maine's youth and elevate the quality of education for all age groups.

With over 35 years of experience practicing medicine in Maine, I am well aware of the structural gaps within our behavioral and public health infrastructure.

Historically, the state has funded initiatives to address and close these disparities. The enactment of this supplemental budget is a testament to our continued drive to do better, securing further funding to enhance the health and well-being of all Mainers.

In the wake of the mass casualty event in Lewiston, the legislature made it a priority to finance mental health crisis intervention services, which will include 24-hour support for those in need. Additionally, grants will be distributed to ensure expanded access to behavioral healthcare, even in the most rural parts of our state.

As a lawmaker, my commitment to public health is unwavering, and I will work within the Legislature to continue striving for better healthcare for all.

Both sides of the aisle in the House of Representatives agree that tackling Maine’s housing crisis is of the utmost importance for our state's future health and well-being. In line with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, addressing basic physical needs, such as safe shelter, is crucial and must be prioritized before other secondary needs can be met.

With this in mind, the budget has appropriated funds to support emergency housing initiatives like low-barrier shelters and housing subsidies for homeless students under 18 years old.

Furthermore, the budget includes grants to support affordable housing initiatives, including the Rural Affordable Rental Housing Program, which will assist individuals in areas with low housing density to find and secure a comfortable place to live.

To encourage the development of more affordable housing, funds from the supplemental budget will be infused into the Low Income Housing Tax Program, providing subsidies to developers and incentivizing them to reserve a portion of rental units for Mainers with low incomes.

These initiatives highlight only a portion of all that the supplemental budget will accomplish. I am proud that we were able fund programs and services that will improve the lives of many folks right here in Windham.

I feel honored to serve our community in the State House and remain hopeful about the improvements that these investments will bring. I hope that we will be able to build on these programs in the future.

State Rep. Jane Pringle is serving her second non-consecutive term in the Maine House of Representatives, having previously represented Windham from 2012-2014. She is a member of the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee. <

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