LePage to expedite cuts

Associated Press

Gov. Paul LePage speaks on Wednesday at the swearing in ceremony for new representatives at the State House in Augusta, Maine. LePage administered the oath of office to the new legislature who were elected last month.

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage said Thursday he will order more than $35 million in cutbacks to state programs as soon as possible, and took the first step by ordering his department heads to look for places to scale back services.

The cuts, which a spokeswoman said will not touch essential services, will affect programs during the current fiscal year that ends June 30, 2013.

"I will be exercising my authority to reduce spending in the quickest manner possible. My commissioners and I are evaluating our options and we will put in place a plan that is practicable and follows the law," LePage, a Republican, said in a statement.

Spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said the order and its details will likely be issued next week, and while cuts will not be across-the-board, "there will be shared sacrifice." The order will not affect services such as police and snow plowing and "we will not allow Mainers to be adversely affected by these cuts."

The reductions must be ordered to ensure the state finishes the fiscal year with a balanced budget, as required by the state Constitution. But even after the cutbacks are made, serious fiscal challenges will confront the governor and Legislature as they put together a budget for the next two-year cycle in the months ahead.

A recalculation of anticipated state revenues by economic experts for the coming 2014-15 biennium has also reduced expected income by $125 million. The two-year budget is expected to total roughly $6 billion. In addition, about $20 million less is expected in the highway budget for roads and bridges, which is separate.

The slowness of recovery from the recession and continuing economic malaise are blamed for the sagging revenues. Meanwhile, officials say the congressional response to the so-called fiscal cliff — the prospect of income tax increases for all and deep cuts in defense and other programs — could have even more profound effects on the state budget.

Curtailment orders are nothing new in Maine. The previous governor, Democrat John Baldacci, ordered curtailments in 2008, 2009 and 2010 as the recession took root and flared up. Cuts totaled more than $160 million over that time.

LePage's curtailment order does not require legislative review or approval, the Democratic legislative leaders pointed out. But lawmakers will have to examine the cuts because they will likely become part of a budget rewrite that accounts for the falling revenue, they said.

"We will be taking a strategic and measured approach to address the shortfall once we reconvene in January," Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, said in a statement.

The Democratic-led 126th Legislature was seated on Wednesday.

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Comments

Hey, here's an idea

How about reversing those unnecessary tax cuts given to wealthy Mainers last year that somehow miraculously managed to match the alleged "shortfall" at DHHS this year! Then use the resulting surplus to fund the VOTER APPROVED bonds he decided not to fund! Holy financial responsibility, Batman!

David Lingard Jr's picture

cut backs........

I just hope these cut backs do not involve the mentally ill......I have notice that in the past those type of programs are the first to be cut back on which leaves us up the river with out a paddle.....i as a consumer fear that will happen this time as well.....I still stand by what some people have said in the past and now of cutting back on the kick backs of the politicians pay and insurance let them live them experience some of the hardness that we have to live in.......it is only fair.....i do hate to use the fair part in my point but it is so true.......to cut back on things that are obviously needed in the state of Maine is not the right way to go......we do need to do these cut backs on things that are not really appropriate like pay raises in the offices......time to cut them out slowly because they are not the only ones in need......i also know that from all these years of people making suggestions about what to do they will not listen they do what they want.......i am talking about the politicians of Maine and the country......Maine is not the only state that has these faults either it is the country as we know it.

Steve  Dosh's picture

LePage to expedite cuts

LSJ ® readers 12.06.12 21:30 hst
Although it may seem like a lot to you or me , US$35 million is chump change . It's ? 3.5% of US$1Billion , approximately the price of one Aegis cruiser produced by your B I W in Bath, i'd guess . $35 million is probably what it costs to plow your roads this winter or the price of a new Piscataqua bridge these days
That's all
This guy is penny wise but pound foolish
Your politicians ought to be lobbying for U S Federal money to repair the rusting infratructure in your State in your cities , towns , the roads and bridges and sewer / water systems . It would help you and your economy . Captial improvements
Cut , slash , and burn . Stop progress . This is the Republican example . Their solution . It's wrong . Bereft of ideas . Don't let them fool you . Again . h t h , Steve Dosh , Hawai'i

 's picture

The Mai Tai's Are Freely Flowing

No, Steve, this has nothing to our great Governor being "pound foolish." It has everything to with cash flow, In the end, despite all of Peggy Rotundo's "programs" and "safety nets", cash flow is king. Cash in = cash out. And the cash is not flowing in as fast as Peggy and her ilk projected.

I know this is a difficult concept for liberals (6 to 7 people out of 10 in these environs) to grasp, but the "hope and change thing" runs miserably out of gas when faced with basic arithmetic.

There are ways for Peggy and her ilk to beat the arithmetic and head fake their way through a gasping economy. One way is to stiff the hospitals. Just don't pay them. She is doing precisely that and now owes nearly half a billion dollars to Maine's hospitals. The other way is to borrow the bejeebers and load the debt up onto the backs of Maine's dwindling taxpayers. Maine taxpayers owe BILLIONS now.

Note, if you don't have to worry about paying taxes to fund all of these programs and safety nets, Peggy is a heroine. What could possibly go wrong?

So, our great Governor is doing his job. 340,000 people on MaineCare. Medicaid spending running 2 million a year more per week this year than last year. 1 on 4 Mainers on welfare. Taxes drying up. I am pleased that we have a man in the Blaine House that takes his job seriously and is not worried about being "popular."

Do me a favor, Steve. Go over to Pearl Harbor today and say a little prayer for the shipmates who gave all 70 years today. And then, bottoms up!

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