Pew: Maine state government is collecting enough to cover its bills

Independent research into state finances found Maine state government flush from 2002 through 2015, except for three years.

The research from the Pew Charitable Trusts uses detailed audited financials from individual states that use “accrual accounting.” That method, Pew said, “captures deficits that can be papered over in the state budget process, even when balance requirements are met, such as by accelerating certain tax collections or postponing payments to balance the books.”

Maine was just about average for the country for that period, collecting an average of 102.5 percent of the revenues needed to cover expenses.

Revenues fell short of expenses in 11 states, which Pew said “could constrain their future fiscal options.”

Pew noted that almost all states had periodic shortfalls in revenue. Chronic shortfalls indicated structural deficits that likely require policy changes to fix.

Pew’s analysis of the audited consolidated annual financial reports from Maine showed Maine last year amassed the largest surplus of any year on record, continuing a trend of surpluses coming out of the recession, except for a small deficit in 2014.

The period measured spans the eight years of Baldacci and the first five of LePage. Despite political rhetoric and shifting power in the Blaine House and State House, the numbers show a relative degree of consistency.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.