AUGUSTA (AP) – Maine’s new state budget counts on a little more than $10 million in savings that have not yet been specified.

This week, the Appropriations Committee’s staff sent a memo to state agencies requesting them to come forward with ways to meet – in fact, more than meet – the savings target.

The committee is looking for $30 million in savings suggestions and it is looking for responses by Aug. 24.

“This effort shall be referred to as ‘the initiative,”‘ the committee memo said.

“The committee is very committed to the goals of ‘the initiative’ in order to achieve on-going savings.

The committee plans to undertake a comprehensive analysis of state government with the goals of consolidating functions and eliminating duplication and inefficiencies in programs, in contracted personal services and in the administrative and management positions within the structure of state government. The committee will be coordinating its efforts with the Joint Select Committee on Future Maine Prosperity,” the memo said.

The newly created joint select committee has been charged with developing a plan “to achieve sustainable prosperity” in the state.

In June, Maine lawmakers enacted a $6.3 billion biennial budget package, setting spending priorities for the next two years and mandating sweeping changes in how school administrative systems have been organized for decades.

Championed by the Appropriations panel, final passage of the budget package in the House of Representatives came on a vote of 112-29. The Senate followed suit, 28-7.

The biennial budget covers the two years beginning July 1. Work by the Appropriations panel on the efficiency initiative remains to be done.

“The committee is fully aware this is a major initiative and that in order to accomplish its goals it will need the cooperation of all branches of government and the people of Maine. The committee will seek input from as many sources as possible,” this week’s memo said.

“The targets are approximately 3 times the $10,100,000 the committee is charged with saving in fiscal year 2009. … Agencies are encouraged to work with other agencies providing similar services to identify areas for consolidation and elimination of duplication. The committee is not looking for fee or revenue enhancements, cost shifting to other funding sources or one-time savings. The committee is committed to finding on-going structural changes in the cost of state government operations,” the memo said.



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