FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 13, 2013
Contact: Ericka Dodge [Alfond], 232-5892; Jodi Quintero [Eves] 841-6279; Ann Kim [Berry] 233-1838
Appropriations Committee Unanimously Approves Supplemental Budget
Restores funding for hospitals, seniors, communities and retired teachers
AUGUSTA – The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a supplemental budget to address a $153 million shortfall in the current fiscal year.
The budget shortfall is a result of a downturn in revenue due to a lagging economy and cost overruns in the Department of Health and Human Services.
“We are in a very challenging situation. And we are thankful for the committee’s tireless work to find solutions,” said Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland. “We know the work is not yet done. We still have a two-year budget ahead of us, but tonight we are a step closer.”
Governor Paul LePage proposed eliminating the Drugs for the Elderly Program, eliminating the cost of living adjustments (COLA) for retired state employees, placing a $10 million cap on General Assistance funding to local municipalities, and reducing reimbursement to critical access hospitals and reducing outpatient services by 10 percent.
The committee kept the Drugs for the Elderly program intact, rejected the cuts to the COLA and the general assistance cap.
“Democrats and Republicans worked together to reduce some of the harm caused by the governor’s proposals,” said Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick. “As we make these tough cuts now we must consider longer-term solutions that will prevent continuous budget shortfalls, including a balance of spending cuts, efficiencies, and a fair tax system.”
The committee also unanimously rejected the governor’s proposals to reduce hospital reimbursement rates and outpatient services, and his proposed cuts to private non-medical institutions, such as assisted living facilities.
Democrats and Republicans were unable to come to an agreement to restore Governor LePage’s $12.5 million cut to General Purpose Aid to education or to fairly disperse the curtailment burden to charter schools.
“We remain committed to more fairly and fully funding our public schools, and revisiting fairness as it applies to charter schools,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham. “Strong public schools are critical to putting students first and ensuring a strong middle class in our state.”
The full Legislature is expected to vote on the supplemental budget next week. The Appropriations Committee will begin work on the two-year budget later this month.
Office of the Speaker