AUGUSTA — Both chambers of the Legislature voted Thursday to approve a $64 million mid-fiscal year budget that provides additional funding for opioid treatment, to maintain a college tuition freeze and to increase the state’s “rainy day” fund.

The House voted 142-1 and the Senate voted 34-0 to send the supplemental budget bill to Gov. Paul LePage for his anticipated signature. The highest-profile item in the budget will provide $3 million in state funds – and leverage an additional $1.8 million in federal funds – for a new program offering a multifaceted treatment approach to opioid addiction that combines primary medical care, counseling and medication-assisted treatment.

The $4.8 million will enable the state to serve an estimated 400 uninsured and MaineCare participants struggling with addiction to heroin or prescription opioids. Lawmakers described the allocation as another modest step in addressing a worsening drug crisis that killed, on average, one Mainer per day last year. Heroin or other opiates accounted for more than 80 percent of the 378 drug overdose deaths in 2016.

“It’s not an enormous (amount), but it’s something, and hopefully . . . it offers a model or a pilot project to do something throughout our state that will be effective,” said Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, a member of the budget-writing Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.

The supplemental budget also includes:

n $35 million to raise the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund – or “rainy day fund” – from $122 million to $157 million.

n $5 million to maintain a tuition freeze at the University of Maine System for in-state students.

n $7 million to cover losses at the Maine Military Authority in Aroostook County, which underbid a Boston transit bus project.

n $2 million to expand an early college program in the University of Maine System.

n $150,000 so the chief medical examiner can improve toxicology screenings for opioids during autopsies.

n $155,000 for the Maine Secretary of State’s Office to place a general obligation bond measure on the June 2017 ballot.

n $4.8 million to construct water supply pipelines and update water treatment equipment at the Casco and Grand Lake Stream fish hatcheries.

n $525,000 for the Maine Emergency Management Agency to help cover disaster-related costs associated with a January 2015 blizzard.

The LePage administration worked closely with lawmakers to craft the supplemental budget. The governor now has 10 days to sign, veto or allow the bill to go into law without his signature.

The Appropriations Committee will now spend the next three-plus months completing work on the state’s next two-year budget, which begins July 1. Lawmakers are expected to make significant changes to the $6.8 billion budget submitted by LePage.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: