AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Despite the snowstorm and a state government shutdown, Governor LePage today signed an order to cut or freeze state spending, to save 35.5 million dollars.
The curtailment order is designed to keep this year's budget in balance despite an unexpected drop in tax revenues. Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett outlined the plan Thursday afternoon.
The four biggest cuts---more than 75% of the total curtailment -- come from some of the biggest parts of the state budget. Health and Human Services will take a $13.1 million dollar cut. Education $12. 5 million, the University of Maine System $2.5 million and Department of Corrections $1.9 million.
The education cuts could prove to be the most controversial, because they come directly out of General Purpose Aid to Education, which provides state aid to local schools. But Commissioner Millett says he thinks many of the school districts are prepared, because they've had months of warning that cuts could be made.
Millett says those school funding cuts won't take effect until after the Legislature has had a chance to review them and decide if they approve. Most of the other cuts or spending freezes will take effect right away, but under law they are temporary.
Millett says the Curtailment package will be included as part of a larger Supplemental Budget, which will be submitted to lawmakers by January 11. That will give the Appropriations Committee a chance to debate all of those cuts and decide if they will become permanent.
The Supplemental Budget will also include provisions to make up a far larger shortfall in the Medicaid or Maine Care program, which was last estimated to be greater than $100 million.