Gov. Janet Mills signs the supplemental budget with members of the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs and the Department of Administrative and Financial Services. Sen. Peggy Rotundo is at left of Mills, wearing a yellow scarf.

On April 25 I joined Lewiston friends and neighbors at Simard-Payne Memorial Park to mark the six-month anniversary of the Oct. 25 mass shooting.

On May 3 I gathered with community members again to celebrate the reopening of Just-In-Time Recreation.

Both events demonstrated the resiliency of our community in the face of terrible tragedy and our ability to move forward even as we continue to grieve.

As Lewiston’s senator, I am committed to honoring the memory of those we lost and to working to provide the support needed for those who were injured and for those who grieve for the loss of loved ones. As chair of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, I am pleased that the supplemental budget we passed at the end of the legislative session contains funds to help meet these needs.

Specifically, the budget includes $8.5 million for St. Mary’s Hospital to continue its vital behavioral health treatment program, and an additional $1.9 million to ensure that Tri-County Mental Health will be able to continue to provide crucial counseling services for survivors. There is also $5 million to establish a Maine Mass Violence Care Fund, to provide future coverage for physical and mental health expenses not covered by insurance for Maine people impacted by mass violence.

We took care of the brave first responders by funding L.D. 1857, a bill to provide physical and mental health services for first responders in our community and around the state, and included $3 million to repay the city of Lewiston and other municipalities for unbudgeted overtime costs for the first responders who participated in the manhunt following the Oct. 25 mass shooting.


I am very pleased that we included $1.4 million for a new Crisis Receiving Center in Lewiston to treat those who are experiencing a mental health crisis. We also appropriated $5 million to make up for the sudden loss of federal Victims of Crime Act funding, which pays for victims’ advocates and counselors who are working with survivors and victims’ families.

Altogether, this supplemental budget — which is designed to address emergencies and keep our biennial budget in balance — dedicates more than $18 million for new mental health initiatives. This has long been a bipartisan priority and, in the wake of the Lewiston tragedy, I am glad we are taking bold steps to address mental health issues people are experiencing before they might result in acts of violence.

In addition to this funding for Lewiston and for the expansion of mental health services, the supplemental budget raises wages for ed techs and school support staff. It provides support for our dairy farmers; funds nursing facilities and veterans’ homes; maintains the state level of K-12 education funding; preserves the Medicare Savings Plan, which provides health care support for older Mainers; and allocates $76 million for critical affordable housing initiatives, including $5.4 million for the new Martel School apartments for older Lewiston residents.

We also set aside $50 million from the Budget Stabilization Fund for the badly-needed repair and rebuilding of the coastal working waterfront and the infrastructure within interior Maine, all damaged by the series of storms over the winter, and set aside another $10 million to help businesses and nonprofits recover.

I am very proud to be part of our community.  We are strong and resilient and incredibly capable of doing the difficult work of recovery.

Peggy Rotundo represents Lewiston in the Maine Senate and serves as the Senate chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.

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