LePage warns against spending despite forecast increase

Gov. Paul LePage
Alex Barber
Gov. Paul LePage
Posted Nov. 22, 2013, at 12:20 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 22, 2013, at 2:17 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The state could see an unexpected $20 million revenue increase in the current two-year budget, but Gov. Paul LePage’s administration is cautioning against any plans for Maine to spend more money.

The Maine Revenue Forecasting Committee met Thursday to talk about the forecast it must present by Dec. 1. That report isn’t expected until sometime next week, but committee members said Thursday they expect a General Fund revenue increase of about $12.8 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, and another $7.7 million in the next fiscal year.

“This is a sign that the economy is improving, but there is much more work to be done,” LePage said in a prepared statement. “Maine still faces many challenges, and we will continue to push for fiscal responsibility and long-term stability.”

Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett also warned against any plans by legislators to spend the anticipated revenue because the changes are relatively small and the figures come early in the biennium, which began in July.

“While a positive development, the RFC’s forecast for the current biennium comes on the heels of a $58 million downward projection from May 2013 and continuing uncertainty surrounding future fiscal policy at the federal level,” Millett said in a release.

“I believe the revenue forecast due in March 2014 will provide a more telling picture of revenue projections over the balance of the biennium, as that report will contain the information on sales tax receipts from the holiday shopping season and the final estimated tax payments made by individual and corporate filers.”

At Thursday’s meeting, the committee also predicted an additional $1.65 million for the Highway Fund in the current biennium.

“Today’s revenue forecast reflects the slow economic recovery that Maine and most of the nation are experiencing,” said Michael Allen, associate commissioner for tax policy. “Continued uncertainty on the federal level relative to the ongoing discussions in Washington on the budget, sequestration and debt ceiling is causing businesses and consumers alike to be more cautious about how they spend their hard-earned money.”

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

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