March 3, 2010

Pleas follow lawmakers into budget arena


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Hand out photo of Representative Lisa Miller (D-Somerville)

''The biggest thing is, this is a process,'' she said. ''There are no final decisions.''

Rep. Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop, an Appropriations Committee member, said he's encouraged to hear that some health care alliances are forming to come up with ideas for mitigating the cuts.

He's open to hearing from fellow legislators and outsiders to help find a way to build a better budget. But he's also concerned that because there's so much opposition, it will be hard to make changes.

''It's going to be difficult to find consensus with all the moving parts,'' he said.

Another moving part is state revenues.

Revenues were up by $30 million in December, according to preliminary numbers. About half of that is a timing issue, Cain said, but the other is actual revenue. She said the committee will hear more about that this week and cautioned it is still waiting to see if the state economy has hit bottom.

And there could be additional federal money for human services, said Baldacci's deputy chief of staff, David Farmer. The $35 million placeholder already in the budget was a conservative estimate and could be changed if Congress passes health care reform legislation.

Cain, now in her sixth year as a legislator, said this budget process feels different because these cuts come on top of other reductions approved in previous years.

''In HHS, we really can't just think about the individual who is the recipient, but rather the ripple effect that taking something away has on the community,'' she said.


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


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