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May 04, 2017

King Votes to Secure Critical Funding for Maine

Senate passes bipartisan government funding bill that includes millions of dollars in funding for Maine

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today voted to approve bipartisan legislation that funds the government through the rest of this Fiscal Year. The legislation includes several provisions Senator King fought for that support critical programs across Maine.

“This bipartisan legislation is poised to do a lot of good for Maine,” Senator King said. “Not only does it provide significant funds to combat the opioid crisis, but it also includes provisions that will invest in local job growth and economic development efforts, that will support Maine’s tourism industry, and that will preserve the environment and help make education more affordable for Maine students. This bipartisan bill is a good example of what Congress is capable of achieving when it puts aside politics and works together on behalf of the American people.”

More specifically, the legislation includes:

  • FUNDING TO COMBAT OPIOID EPIDEMIC: A total of $511.7 million to combat the opioid epidemic. This funding – which includes $301.2 million for the Department of Health and Human Services, $160.5 million for the Department of Justice, and $50 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs – will help provide resources for treatment, prevention, enforcement, and recovery. Importantly, some of this funding will be distributed to programs established under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, a bill cosponsored by Senator King that was signed into law last year. The $511.7 million in this legislation is nearly double the $276 million spent by these departments in Fiscal Year 2016.
  • FUNDING FOR MAINE SHIPBUILDING: A total of $271.7 million for the DDG-1000 program, all of which are being built at Bath Iron Works (BIW), and $3.6 billion for the DDG-51 Destroyer program, which includes $433 million to construct an additional Arleigh Burke class destroyer that is likely to be awarded to BIW.
  • VISA CAP RELIEF TO SUPPORT MAINE TOURISM INDUSTRY: A provision that would allow the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Labor and Homeland Security to increase the number of H-2B visas distributed to small businesses across the county. Senator King led a group of his colleagues, including Senator Susan Collins, in sending a letter to Senate leadership urging them to provide visa cap relief to Maine businesses that are the seasonal workers they need to keep their businesses open and operating during the summer months.
  • NIH FUNDING: A total of $34 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is an increase of $2 billion. This not only increases the federal commitment to finding innovative treatment and cures for diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s, but it also supports jobs at research facilities in Maine like the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine Medical Research Institute in Scarborough, and the University of New England in Biddeford.
  • COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANTS: A total of $3 billion for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). Maine received $16 million in CDBG grants last year, which were used by local municipalities to support job creation, community development, and infrastructure improvements.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION AND ENERGY ASSISTANCE: A total of $153 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program, which helps revitalize contaminated properties, including an ongoing project right now at the former Verso Paper Mill in Bucksport; $400 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund; $63 million for the National Sea Grant Program – the University of Maine is a designated Sea Grant College; $3.39 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; and $23.5 million for the National Estuarine Research Reserve, which provides funding to Wells Reserve at Laudholm
  • ARTS AND PUBLIC BROADCASTING: A total of $445 million for Fiscal Year 2019 for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as well as a $1.9 million increase in funding for National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) grants. These grants have supported over 100 programs in Maine in the past five years.
  • YEAR ROUND PELL GRANTS: A total of $22.5 billion for Pell Grants. Also authorizes year-round or summer Pell grants, benefiting roughly one million students. This expansion will provide eligible students up to 150 percent of their current Pell award, which could amount on average to an additional $1,650 Pell award. In addition, mandatory funding enables the maximum Pell Grant to increase by $105 in fiscal year 2017 to $5,920 for roughly eight million Pell recipients.
  • LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION: A total of $385 million for Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which helps more than 1.8 million low-income Americans gain access to the courts for cases including domestic violence, housing, and child custody. Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Maine gets 24 percent of its operating budget funded through LSC.
  • FIREFIGHTER ASSISTANCE GRANTS: A total $690 million for Firefighter Assistance Grants to ensure fire departments are staffed and firefighters are equipped to handle not only day-to-day tasks safely, but also to address emerging threats. Several Maine fire departments, including many in rural Maine, have been awarded grants through this program to provide training, modernize firehouses, and update equipment.
  • RURAL WATER AND WASTE-WATER LOAN AND GRANT PROGRAM: A total of $1.25 billion for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Water and Sewer loan and grant financing program, which is a key component of economic development in rural Maine communities. Approximately 84 percent of last year’s loan and grant dollars were awarded to bring services to communities with populations of less than 5,000.
  • TELEMEDICINE: A total of $26.6 million for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants, an increase of $4.6 million from Fiscal Year 2016. Maine awardees have used the funds to support real-time distance learning for rural and island school districts, as well as telehealth videoconferencing for home health agencies and rural medical clinics.


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