AUGUSTA – When the task force that’s looking for millions of dollars to cut from the state budget returns to Augusta on Thursday, it will spend the day reviewing proposals to trim spending for K-12 education, higher education and the Department of Health and Human Services.

It promises to be a long — and interesting — day.

Last month, the Streamline & Prioritize Core Government Services Task Force, made up of lawmakers and others, began discussing cuts in education. But it quickly became clear that more information was needed, particularly about funding for Child Development Services and salary supplements typically given to teachers who want to be certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen told the panel last month that the salary supplements should be targeted to needy districts, not distributed evenly across the state. He suggested tying them to the percentage of children who receive free or reduced-price lunches, although some panel members said they don’t think that those figures are an accurate reflection of a district’s wealth.

In the area of Child Development Services, parents can choose to have their children receive services until a certain age, rather than go to nearby public schools. The department is proposing to draw up guidelines to require a student’s “service plan team” to agree it is in the child’s best interest to continue with Child Development Services.

Bowen is proposing to cut $850,000 from Child Development Services and $100,000 from the salary supplements.

Many people are awaiting proposals from the DHHS, which have yet to be released. The department was asked to offer $22 million in cuts, the largest target given to any state agency.

The streamlining commission is supposed to find at least $25 million in cuts to balance the state budget in fiscal year 2012-13. The state budget office asked state-funded agencies and groups to come forward with $35 million in proposals for consideration.

On Oct. 28, the Office of Information Technology, the Board of Corrections and the Department of Corrections are scheduled to present their cuts to the group.

PAC DEADLINE

Wednesday is the next reporting deadline for political action committees that are spending or raising money to promote Nov. 8 ballot questions.

The groups have until 11:59 p.m. to file reports with the state ethics commission.

For those who need a reminder, here are the questions that will be on the ballot:

Question 1: “Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election?”

Question 2: “Do you want to allow a slot machine facility at a harness racing track in Biddeford or another community within 25 miles of Scarborough Downs, subject to local approval, and at a harness racing track in Washington County, with part of the profits from these facilities going to support specific state and local programs?”

Question 3: “Do you want to allow a casino with table games and slot machines in Lewiston, with part of the profits going to support specific state and local programs?”

Question 4: Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to change the years of redistricting the Maine Legislature, congressional districts and county commissioner districts after 2013 from 2023 and every 10th year thereafter to 2021 and every 10th year thereafter?”

ANN ROMNEY TO VISIT

Ann Romney, wife of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, will be at the Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks on Oct. 12 for a fundraiser, the Maine Republican Party announced last week.

If you want to attend the host committee reception at 5 p.m., it costs $1,000 per person or $2,000 per couple. The general reception, which will start at 5:30 p.m., costs $500 per person or $1,000 per couple.

Checks can be made payable to Romney for President Inc. Contact the Maine Republican Party for more information.

The party has not endorsed Romney, but circulated the information about the fundraiser at the request of the Romney campaign.

POLIQUIN WINS AWARD

State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin has been named Economic Freedom Fighter of the Year by the Maine chapter of the conservative Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

Poliquin will get his award Oct. 15 at a dinner, also at the Marriott at Sable Oaks. A dinner ticket costs $50, although spending $1,000 makes you a host, which comes with two tickets to a VIP private reception and five dinner seats.

To find out more, go to: www.americansforprosperity.org/maine

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

[email protected]