AUGUSTA (AP) – Legislative budget writers got a chance Thursday to ask questions about Gov. John Baldacci’s latest proposals for spending cutbacks, which were already undergoing changes.

Even as Appropriations Committee members sought additional detail, administration officials said the governor was prepared to scrap or reduce cuts in at least a few areas.

As announced earlier this week, Baldacci is proposing to use nearly $9 million from an accounting correction in the state’s business equipment tax reimbursement program to help bring his $5.3 billion biennial budget into balance.

The original plan also envisioned taking advantage of reductions in debt service totaling more than $10 million.

On Thursday, administration budget chief Rebecca Wyke said the administration was prepared to halve a $3.2 million proposed cut in adult mental health community support spending.

Wyke also said the administration was ready to do without a reduction of $100,000 earmarked for support services for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Additionally, Wyke said a proposed $1.2 million cut in clothing allowances for foster children would be reduced by $350,000.

The Appropriations Committee opens public hearings on the Baldacci budget-balancing measure, designed in part to offset a $48 million revenue shortfall for fiscal 2004-2005, on Monday.

Baldacci also has identified new revenue sources, fund transfers and other adjustments to cover about $15 million in additional spending.

More than $2 million would go to the Corrections Department, which would be authorized to fill about 17 new positions on a temporary basis.

Another $300,000 would be set aside for a study commission to look into the causes of a marked increase in the state’s prison population and recommend ways to control costs.

In one initiative to generate new revenue, the plan would count on stepped-up traffic law enforcement through increased aerial surveillance to produce an additional $750,000 for the two-year budget cycle that begins on July 1.

It would also require legislation to be filed next year that would propose efficiency measures worth at least $1 million.

Earlier in the day, Baldacci visited a meeting of Senate Democrats that participants said covered a number of topics.

AP-ES-05-01-03 1805EDT

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