AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's Board of Corrections appears poised to disappear. At the same time an adequate funding stream for Maine's 15 county jails remains anything but certain.
In his new budget revision plan, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has proposed eliminating the board's $6.5 million operations fund. The board is charged with overseeing operations at the state's county jails, and LePage has proposed a state take-over of the jails or returning complete control of the facilities back to the counties.
A legislative panel voted 6-4 in favor of a county-controlled jail system, bolstered by some state funding. Democratic Rep. Justin Chenette, of Saco, says the two-thirds legislative support his amendment requires will be a high bar to overcome.
"This is a path forward that addresses the property tax concerns," Chenette says. "It alleviates the issues that the county sheriffs and the county commissioners had, and it ensures that it is bipartisan, so Republicans are on it and Democrats are on it.
Lawmakers on the Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee say that if Chenette's bill passes, final funding will be up to the Appropriations Committee.