AUGUSTA – State officials briefing legislators on the budget-writing committee said Tuesday that the state is facing a budget shortfall of more than $1 billion — but how much more is unclear.

“What we know is that we’ve just come through the worst fiscal drop Maine has seen; worse than what it was in the early ’90s,” said state Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, the House committee chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. “What we know is that the next biennium is going to continue to be tough.”

Revenues are up about 2 percent over last year, but there is a huge budget shortfall.

Grant Pennoyer, director of the Office of Fiscal and Program Review, said that in addition to the current shortfall of $800 million, there is also the “roughly $500 million” in additional funds the Department of Health and Human Services estimates it needs to maintain current services.

As for a total figure, Pennoyer said: “I’m not prepared to go there yet.”

Meanwhile, the state pension plan has an unfunded liability of $4.4 billion, according to Executive Director Sandy Matheson.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: [email protected]

 


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