J. Timberlake: Cuts are unavoidable

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On Feb. 23, the Legislature passed a bill to address the 2012 budget shortfall at the Department of Health and Human Services. The budget bill was the result of months of negotiation between members of both parties and both political branches, and it reflects our shared goals of fiscal responsibility and maintaining help for Maine’s most vulnerable.

Among the cost savings in the bill are $8 million in staffing cuts at DHHS, more than $7 million through increased use of generic drugs, and more than $28 million through eligibility-tightening measures that bring Maine closer to the national average for Medicaid eligibility.

It is unfortunate that some of those cuts had to be made, but the sad truth is that Maine has been spending too much on welfare for too long. The state is spending almost half again more on MaineCare than it was just 10 years ago, and enrollment has increased by 78 percent.

Legislators now face the task of finding a solution to the 2013 portion of the DHHS budget shortfall. The goal will be to plug that $84 million hole with long-term solutions to the annual DHHS budget woes.

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I am confident that, once again, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle will come together to make the tough decisions that the people elected us to make.

Rep. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner

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