AUGUSTA — Maine taxpayer spending on the government welfare program has increased 72 percent, and taxpayers are shelling out 185 percent more for substance abuse programs, according to a report released today that highlights the state’s 40 fastest-growing general fund programs during the past decade.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center report says that of those 40 programs, 25 are in the Departments of Health and Human Services or the Department of Corrections.

The report looks at general fund spending in fiscal years between 2002 and 2011, not including federal dollars. While spending for the 40 fastest-growing programs increased by 35 percent, state funding for the remaining programs decreased 8.5 percent, it says.

The conservative think tank’s report is likely to draw the attention of Republican Gov.-elect Paul LePage’s new administration and the Legislature as they look for ways to pare spending, economize and reshape the way state government delivers services.

Tarren Bragdon, on leave as chief executive officer of the policy center, is serving as co-chair of the LePage transition. And former state Rep. Sawin Millett, who is heading up the transition’s budget working group, said the report will help focus discussions as the new administration formulates a spending outline. Millett is a former state finance commissioner.

“It allows us to focus on where the growth is, the obvious questions that we have answers to, and where there might be areas that we haven’t previously identified where we could look at restructuring, redesigning, and addressing … those largest growth programs,” Millett said after a policy center news conference.

Steve Bowen, author of the report and like Millett a former Appropriations Committee member, said state officials have relied too heavily in the past with across-the-board cuts when confronted with revenue shortages that made budget balancing difficult.

“That process ignores the real reasons for Maine’s budget woes,” said Bowen. A more commonsense approach, he said, is targeting “the state’s biggest spending culprits.”

Democratic House Minority Leader Emily Cain of Orono, who is familiar with the budget process as a former appropriations co-chair, said she hopes her party can be involved in finding out why the numbers are what they are.

“I love reports that talk about numbers,” said Cain. “But the numbers don’t tell the whole story.”

The report says nine of the 40 fastest-growing programs are in the Corrections Department, where administrative costs have jumped 90 percent over the decade and medical spending has more than doubled.

While the human services department’s general fund spending has declined over the 10-year span, spending on some of its programs – such as welfare program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – have risen sharply.

Among other programs seeing large increases are public school subsidies, retired teachers’ health insurance, state police drug enforcement and the legislative budget.