Governor Janet Mills and Commissioner for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services Kirsten Figueroa announced that the Administration has committed all of Maine’s $1.25 billion in CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF). The final commitment of $6.8 million will fund the public-private partnership with Westbrook-based IDEXX Laboratories for COVID-19 testing. This partnership has more than quadrupled Maine’s capacity for detecting the virus. The final CRF commitment comes ahead of the December 30, 2020 expiration of CRF funding and as Congress considers additional COVID-19 relief for the American people.
The Mills Administration committed nearly half of the state’s Federal CRF to support Maine’s small businesses and workers. For example, the Administration provided $294 million to bolster the Unemployment Trust Fund and provided more than $240 million in economic recovery grants to help sustain business operations. Furthermore, the Administration is providing a one-time payment of $600 to Maine people who are unemployed as a result of the pandemic as Federal unemployment benefits are poised to expire. The Administration also provided significant funding to Maine’s public school systems to help them provide safe in-person learning opportunities and to adjust to hybrid- or fully remote-learning options, including purchasing remote learning devices for students and partnering with Internet Service Providers to expand broadband.
Additionally, Maine invested significantly in public health and safety, including the procurement of PPE; health and safety within congregate living settings; grants for healthcare providers and for municipalities to deploy public health and prevention programs; child care for frontline workers; and pandemic assistance for people who are homeless, minorities, food insecure, and otherwise marginalized. While Maine will use other Federal monies to fund the partnership with IDEXX , additional CRF funding is critical to advancing the full set of actions associated with the state’s comprehensive COVID-19 response.
Federal legislation stipulates that all CRF expenses be incurred by December 30, 2020, with a three-month period available beyond that date for the issuance of payments. The Mills Administration committed $35 million in CRF for the local match required on FEMA Major Disaster Declaration grants, approvals for which are delayed and may not be available prior to the CRF deadline. As is the case in jurisdictions across the nation, the Mills Administration is consistently monitoring the expenditures of these committed funds, which may be impacted by factors such as global supply chain bottlenecks other pandemic-induced availability concerns. Should these issues prevent the incurring of expenses by month’s end, the Mills Administration may have to take steps to recommit CRF to other purposes.
CRF is one component of the CARES Act and part of the $7.4 billion in Federal COVID-19 support to Maine and Maine families over the last nine months. An accounting of the full $1.25 billion of CRF commitments made by the Administration can be found here.