Democrats protest $34 million in budget cuts proposed by LePage administration

 AUGUSTA — Democrats on the Appropriations Committee reacted coolly Wednesday to a $34 million package of cuts presented by Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s administration, calling it a rehash of numerous initiatives that have been tried and rejected.

Rep. Michael Carey, D-Lewiston, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said during the presentation that the LePage administration was using the opportunity to strong-arm the Democrat-led Legislature into accepting cuts it previously rejected.

“The piece that’s hard for me with this is looking at it from the 5,000-foot level,” said Carey during a discussion on a proposed $9.6 million cut to state support of public education. “As I read this report, it feels like we are being asked to rehash what was a very difficult biennial budget because the administration didn’t like how this committee restored some money to [general purpose aid for education]. How is this not rehashing the biennial budget?”

Richard Rosen, director of the Office of Policy and Management, which was created in 2012 at LePage’s urging, said he drew from numerous sources and relied heavily on state departments to help him come up with the proposed cuts, which are necessary to keep the biennial budget in balance.

“It’s certainly not intended as a rehash,” said Rosen, who served as Senate chairman of the Appropriations Committee when Republicans held legislative majorities in 2011 and 2012. “I suppose any one of these affected entities could view this as a rehash of the biennial budget. Every department and agency in state government is impacted by these recommendations.”

The package of cuts includes $11.3 million in this fiscal year, which LePage can implement on his own through executive orders, and $24 million next year, which would require a combination of actions by LePage and the Legislature.

Among other things, Rosen recommends cuts to public schools and universities, curtailed funding for the prison system, a rollback of the state’s support for municipal general assistance programs and numerous cuts within the Department of Health and Human Services.

Some of the savings recommended by Rosen would result from the elimination of 97 state government jobs, only about a dozen of which are now filled.

Adrienne Bennett, a spokeswoman for LePage, said Rosen and the governor were forced into proposing these cuts because the Legislature left the nearly $34 million budget gap for Rosen’s office to fill.

“Mainers need to understand that these cuts were a directive of the Legislature,” said Bennett. “The governor did propose a balanced budget. The Appropriations Committee could have identified savings. Instead, legislators shifted the responsibility and tough decision-making to the Office of Policy and Management. They cannot simply lay all the blame on the LePage administration when they ran away from making the tough decisions in the first place.”

However, Part F of the governor’s original budget proposal called for the Office of Policy and Management to identify $10 million in savings in fiscal year 2014 — which could be accomplished by executive orders — and $20 million in 2015. LePage’s budget also directed Rosen’s office to identify 100 positions for elimination in Part G.

Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, co-chairman of the Appropriations Committee, criticized the proposed cuts in a prepared statement.

“This proposal is a greatest hits list of rehashed ideas that have been rejected by both parties; it’s hard to believe this is a serious proposal,” she said. “Now it is our job to find proposals that work.”

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

True to his word

The governor said he wasn't going to bother with a budget and he didn't. He just hauled out last year's budget which was rejected by the legislature in a rare effort to listen to the electorate and threw it back at the legislature. Old fish doesn't smell any better a year later. They should just ignore him and reject it again. It isn't as if it would be difficult to come up with something more sensible.

JOHN PAINTER's picture

I had thought the Governor

I had thought the Governor was interested in people before politics, most of the budget he proposed originally, and the current reiteration is political.

It's very clear to me, working in behavioral health where most of the waste occurs and suspect others understand this too, however at around $4billion annually in federal Medicaid coming into Maine, there are many interests in maintaining the status quo. We can't afford that type of tyranny.

For example we can save $20 million in the biennium by immediately canceling the contract with APS HealthCare (which attempts to contain MaineCare costs by limiting medically necessary services, predictably it takes time away from actually providing services and creates more administrative and clinical work debating that - yes a floridly psychotic individual, and in the end tax payers, really do benefit when they actually make it to their psychiatrists office and don't end up in the hospital or jail) and utilizing existing DHHS staff in the division of licensing and MaineCare audit to detect provider waste fraud and abuse and suspend and revoke their license when proven. There are adequate staff in the Maine DHHS division of licensing and MaineCare audit for this.

Being familiar with behavioral health contracting the entire shortfall can be eliminated several fold by aligning state health objectives with the actual contracts, and reporting requirements licensed agencies have. For example, the reports I do quarterly, do not contain any data about my organizations contract, and the contract has marginal at best alignment with overall state objectives for population health. The waste in administrative time generating data not pertinent to the contract, let alone demonstrating patient health improvement is surreal in Maine.

As a psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner I'm confused why that the state I grew up in and love doesn't want to hold me accountable for what I'm trained in - helping people with a severe and persistent mental illness recover and stay healthy, and in so doing reduce the overall cost of services - this is actually documented but not reported since the state does not want it.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Damn it, where's the AGREE button........

And while I'm at it, I'll need the DISAGREE button for Marks post coming up. Please put those options back into service. What ever the issue was to eliminate them couldn't be as bad as needing them and not having them. Please do this in the name of, Public Interest. Thank You........................

AGREE

See, not so hard. Just post a reply with AGREE or DISAGREE in the subject. Unless you're afraid to put a face behind that AGREE/DISAGREE

FRANK EARLEY's picture

If you've gotten enough disagrees...................

After awhile, it becomes crystal clear when people actually agree or disagree, you can tell if they are just disagreeing about everything in the hopes of pissing someone off. At that time, I think of the "Parrot" who we all know, likes to perch on the disagree button. If this is that serious to you, maybe this isn't the place for you. As I'm sure everyone is aware of, we do from time to time, have a few laughs at the expense of someone, We're not doing this because we are against that person or angry at them, We've all been on the receiving end of it. Sometimes a little chuckle does a lot more good than getting all bent out of shape.
Yes it wasn't so hard to type in my own agree, it's just not as fun as the old way. WE WANT THE AGREE DISAGREE BUTTONS BACK ASAP.........................................

MARK GRAVEL's picture

If Rotund, Peggy does not

If Rotund, Peggy does not like the proposed cuts, then she should propose her own cuts - balance that budge.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

How about we.....................

Why don't we calculate the financial amount of Governor LePage's retirement benefits, for say, twenty five years. Then, instead of giving it to LePage, we write a check for that amount and present it to the people of Maine, for health issues, education etc. It is relatively a small amount, but it will be more than the Governor has done for the people so far.

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

why cut anything but

LaPlague's tax cuts for the rich which created this whole mess.

FWIW - the state budget must be balanced, the state cannot print money. I know that doesn't fit the crap that comes out of conservative HQ's, but it's true.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

All Maine residents partook

All Maine residents partook in the tax cut equally. The percentage rollback was equal for all.

Your "for the rich" crap is nonsense.

Jason Theriault's picture

Then it would be fair to repeal it

Then it would be fair to repeal the tax cut - we as a people, need to pay our bills. Tax cuts should only come if we have a surplus.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Most individuals say, I need

Most individuals say, I need to cut my spending (i.e. bills) because I don't have enough income to pay them all.

Using your logic, the government spends, then must find the revenue. I know that is government's modus operandi, but it is really ass backwards given how all Americans behave.

Think what an employer would say if you approached them and said you need a rise because you spent too much money. They would probably, and rightly so, give you the boot.

Yet in the backwards world called liberalism, you spend first. I don't think anyone is buying the crap you are selling.

Jason Theriault's picture

NEWSFLASH

NEWSFLASH - State Government operates differently than a person.

Listen, I agree the state needs to reduce it's spending. However, in Republican backwards logic, they cut revenues before they cut spending, and then wonder why there is a deficit. Businesses don't give out a dividend if they are losing money, and the state shouldn't have a tax cut if we don't have a surplus.

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

What confuses me

Every politician, regardless of party label, runs for office on the promise to cut spending and taxes.

We are already sawing into bone folks - if you don't think so look at the reports from civil engineers on opur bridges, the condition of road surfaces and the pathetic conditions in some of our schools.

The real problem is that LePlague wants to cut all revenue sharing and put the full cost on the property tax payer. Of course, he then retires to Florida or maybe Jamaica if a Democrat takes back the Florida state house.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

According to you, LePage is

According to you, LePage is sawing into the bone, then he should keep going an take off the whole limb. Property owner should pay to play. Like I said many times before, Maine residencies should have voted for caps on property taxes. They did not because they were foolish enough to listen to the politicians promise.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Shame on the Democrats..............

I'm sorry, but I just can't believe a Republican would actually attempt to strong arm anyone into doing something that would be detrimental to the general public............

Jason Theriault's picture

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

MARK GRAVEL's picture

How is spending money the

How is spending money the state does not have not detrimental to the public?

Someone has to pay, so who shall it be?

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...