AUGUSTA (AP) – New disclosures of accounting problems in the state Human Services Department have prompted some lawmakers to call for the acting commissioner’s resignation, but the Baldacci administration says it’s sticking with Peter Walsh.

Democratic Gov. John Baldacci “should absolutely get rid of the acting commissioner,” said Rep. Kevin Glynn, R-South Portland, because Walsh “either knew what was going on or he should have known what was going on.”

Walsh’s tenure became an issue after Baldacci disclosed earlier this week that a $37 million hole in the state’s Medicaid budget has developed over several years.

Rep. Darlene Curley, a Scarborough Republican and member of Health and Human Services Committee that oversees the DHS, said, “I think we need leadership now.”

Walsh could stay on in some lesser capacity, Curley said, but the governor should act now to restore the public’s confidence by putting someone else in charge of the department, possibly on a temporary basis.

Walsh has worked at the DHS since 1977, including a stint as a deputy commissioner from 1995 until this year. He became acting commissioner in February after Kevin Concannon left the post.

Walsh said on Wednesday he has no intention of stepping down, and Baldacci spokesman Lee Umphrey said firing Walsh “will not solve the problems” at the DHS.

Baldacci wants to combine Human Services with the Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services. He plans to appoint a new commissioner next year, so Walsh’s tenure will be limited, Umphrey said.

AP-ES-09-18-03 0904EDT



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