New budget proposal includes $1 million for Maine’s bicentennial celebration



ELLSWORTH — Maine’s Bicentennial Commission could receive a significant increase in state funding under Governor Janet Mills’ new supplemental budget proposal.

That spending plan, which is intended to run through June of this year while the Legislature debates her proposed $8-billion biennial budget, includes $1 million to help fund the upcoming celebration of Maine’s statehood.

“The money requested is a significant amount, yes, but it is merely the down payment, the state’s contribution that will — as many grant programs and governmental expenditures before it — trigger an outpouring of private money from people, corporations, and foundations that will set Maine’s Bicentennial on solid financial footing,” said Dave Cheever, Maine State archivist and Bicentennial Commission member, while providing testimony on Feb. 20 to the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs.

If passed, the commission would match state funding with an additional $1 million in fundraising.

“That is what this request represents,” Cheever said during his testimony. “It provides the Bicentennial Commission with the money needed to ensure that events and programs that begin in July of this year, and extend into late next year, can be planned properly.”

The $1 million, which would be a one-time appropriation, would mark a significant increase in state funding for the 200-years-in-the-making birthday. In his final budget, former Governor Paul LePage would only approve $75,000 for the bicentennial.

While discussions on the budget are still in their early stages, there has been public testimony to the Legislature in support of funding the bicentennial.

The bicentennial celebration is set to kick off later this summer with an event to commemorate the July 26 vote to separate from the state of Massachusetts. Festivities large and small will continue across the state through 2020 before concluding in October.

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