The full audio of today’s meeting may be found here:
This morning the Appropriations Committee of the 126th Legislature met for the final time. The Committee heard from Mike Allen from the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) about September actual revenues, State Economist Amanda Rector regarding the November 1 report of the Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission (CEFC). The Committee briefly discussed questions for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) had the department chosen to appear. The committee reconvened in the afternoon to speak with Sandy Matheson, Executive Director of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MePERS)
Copies of the September Revenue report can be found here:
Dr. Allen shared that year to date General Fund revenues are $9.9M over budget for FY 15. September revenues are $5.3M over budget.
- Individual income tax withholdings are ($8M) under budget for the month
- Estate tax revenues are $5.8M over budget for the month
- Corporate income tax revenues are $3.6M over budget
- Sales and use tax revenues are $47,438 over budget for the month and ($575,162) for the year
Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission
Copies of the CEFC report can be found here: November 2014 CEFC report
Amanda Rector, State Economist, presented the latest CEFC report to the committee. This report predicts continued slow growth in Maine accompanied by ongoing demographic and aging challenges.
Major indicators and changes from February forecast
- Slight decline in FY14 income growth but a slight predicted increase in income growth for FY15 and FY16
- Increased inflation will erode this income growth
- Maine can expect to return to prerecession levels of employment in FY17
Questions for DHHS
What is the Department’s plan to fill key vacancies at the Maine CDC? With the onset of flu season and lingering concerns regarding other infectious diseases it seems imperative to have appropriately credentialed professionals in place.
The Court Master has issued a report that questions the Department’s compliance with the AMHI Consent Decree. Detail for us the steps taken to achieve compliance with the CD and federal certification since our last communication.
Major staff changes are taking place at key divisions within the Department. What has led to these changes, does this herald a change in direction or policy, and what is the plan and time able for permanently filling these positions?
Rep. Rotundo also asked that the Department address concerns about delays in the processing of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applications.
State Budget Officer Melissa Gott spoke to the committee to relay that one of the outstanding financial orders to allow the Office of the Attorney General to hire a drug prosecutor to work in Washington County has finally been approved by the Governor. She also promised to provide a full list of outstanding financial orders that have been presented to the Governor but have not received his approval.
Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MePERS)
Sandy Matheson, Executive Director of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MePERS) presented the committee with positive news about the position of Maine’s retirement system. Her presentation can be found here:
- Maine’s plans are currently funded at a health level and measured conservatively
- State/Teacher plan- 81.3%
- Legislator plan- 143.6%
- Judicial plan- 101.6%
- Anything over 80% is considered to be well funded
- The state contributes 4%
- Employees contribute 7.65%
- Compared to other state’s plans, Maine has:
- Higher funding level
- Lower earnings assumptions
- Strong constitutional protections
- The provisions in place in Maine are similar to those being adopted in other places including post-bankruptcy Detroit