Baldacci orders $63M in department cutbacks

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Gov. John Baldacci ordered Maine state departments Friday to curtail spending by $63 million to make sure the budget is balanced.

John Baldacci
Robert F. Bukaty

Gov. John Baldacci speaks at a news conference last January where he unveiled a two-year state budget that proposes deep cuts due to the recession. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Baldacci issued the order for the fiscal year ending in mid-2010 as preliminary estimates showed an approaching shortfall in the two-year $5.8 billion budget of $400 million, or nearly 7 percent.

Education and Health and Human Services are the hardest-hit departments, accounting for about 80 percent of the cuts.

The governor's order stands until the Legislature returns in January for its 2010 session and modifies the current two-year state budget. Lawmakers passed a budget this year that slashed spending by $500 million, giving Maine the first budget in three decades that was smaller than the previous one.

Similar patterns appeared in 34 other states, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.

"It's clear now that we will have to do even more," Baldacci said. "It's not pretty but it's necessary. The days and weeks ahead are going to be difficult."

States continue to struggle even as the national recession eases, he said.

The National Governors Association, citing a survey by the budget officers' organization, said state revenues overall dropped 7.5 percent in fiscal year 2009, roughly on a par with Maine's decline. Revenues were below expectations in 41 states during that period.

"States are currently facing one of the worst, if not the worst, fiscal periods since the Great Depression," says the report by the national budget officers.

As he issued his order in Maine, Baldacci pledged not to support increased taxes to close the budget gap. He plans to submit a budget reflecting the plunging revenues to lawmakers in December. Cuts that have been recommended by department heads will first be evaluated to avoid affecting the state's most vulnerable, he said.

Much of the $38 million in education cuts he ordered Friday will affect school subsidies. Baldacci said the depth of the cuts are tempered by a bolstering of school aid before the recession hit.

"We are trying to limit the impact in the classroom as much as we can," the governor said.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Brenda Harvey said the $11 million in cuts to her department avoid programs that draw federal matching funds and target those funded exclusively by the state. Officials also tried to spread the cuts among many services rather that eliminate any outright. Funding for the mentally retarded, child crisis services and maternal and child health services are among those affected.

Baldacci said that state government payroll has been reduced by 1,000 employees during the past six years and that many programs have been restructured to reflect falling revenues.

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Comments

 's picture

You can't lump together all

You can't lump together all state workers and say they are worthless. My husband works for the state and donates at least 20 hours (usually more) every week to you morons. He has a long commute (because we can't afford the houses closer to his office) and an incredible work ethic. He's been furloughed (even though he still works well over 40 hours on those weeks), his salary (which doesn't even come close to compensating him for the work he does) has been capped, and his/our insurance cost is about to go up.

Get over yourselves.

 's picture

Then you haven't read the

Then you haven't read the previous comments for this article, along with every other news story written about the state budget. I'm tired of it.

 's picture

Before they make specific

Before they make specific cuts in Education and DHHS, we need some major changes in how the Baldacci Administration has been "managing" the state workforce.

In particular; if you read the overly generous “ARTICLE 63. SICK LEAVE” (pages 57-59) of the state employee’s contract
(http://www.mseaseiu.org/forms/admin07-09.pdf),
you’ll find one large example of fraud/abuse/waste at the taxpayers’ expense. The cozy Baldacci-SEIU relationship needs to be terminated now!

IMO, state workers should receive a maximum of four (4) paid sick days per calendar year, period. In addition, the unused days should not be rolled over for the next year. There also needs to be some type of incentive program to reward state workers whom don't use all of their sick days, and we must stop the widespread abuse of the current system (e.g., using sick days as extra vacation days).

The political games and BS with our tax dollars must be stopped, but that would require an administrative team which has a spine... or a pro-active voter base.
Are you ready for some positive change yet? Find the solution at
www.MaineTaxpayers.com

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

Fact!!!!! every state

Fact!!!!! every state worker, city, or County worker earns at least 32 thousand dollars............................Oh forgot to say IN BENEFITS!!! NOT SALERY!!! We are being robbed TAKE ALL YOUR FLUSTRATION OUT ON THEM THEY DESERVE MUCH WORSE !!!! They are as bad as the bums who dont want to work and stay on the system to give jobs to half these creeps!!! BEST IDEA.....PRIVATIZATION of STATE GOV. WITH JOB BIDS EVERY 4 YEARS (differant company and any headway the union gets to over burdon us will cease... Oh yeah YOU THINK these people will give up a job that will still be decent instead of leaching off the taxpayer I dont think so!! they need this wake up call ASAP!!!!

 's picture

The Governor should be

The Governor should be ashamed of himself !! To cut education just isnt right !!! Ohhh unless its from the top which Idoubt will happen !! Dump the liberals that put us here

 's picture

Please!!! You clearly do not

Please!!! You clearly do not have a clue! We pay about $500 a month for health insurance for a family of 3!!! When there are so many people sitting on their butts collecting food stamps and MaineCare, we work hard for the money we have and definitely do not get free insurance. Why do I have a feeling you aren't one of the taxpayers who is "paying my salary"? Have you heard about the "days off" unpaid we have received?? The fact that we get no more overtime, even though there is no way we can get our jobs done without it? Some of my co-workers who have been with the State for over 20 years have been let go because their job no longer exists?? Who do you think is going to do that extra work with no added benefit? It's getting worse everywhere, so I don't understand why you think the state workers should continue to pay the price???

 's picture

I completely agree with you

I completely agree with you hurricanium!! How do we do it???? It's so frustrating to see them showing up at Wal-Mart and whipping out their food stamps card when they have a nice cell phone, awesome jewelry, clearly manicured fingernails, nice clothes and their shopping cart is full of food/toys that I can't afford. So frustrating when you know for a fact they are taking advantage and yet you are struggling to make ends meet!

 's picture

I think the population of

I think the population of Maine is closer to 1.3 million people. That leaves 1 in 4 residents getting some sort of DHHS support. It is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. Transfoming America, we are.

All the best,

Bob

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