Higher education, Long Creek, Nursing Facility and behavioral health funding

Continuing work on the change package Appropriations met this afternoon and unanimously approved a number of the remaining proposals in front of them.

Among the issues still to be resolved are positions, large transfers, direct care rates, health care for legally present new Mainers, and the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services (MCILS); as well as bonds, AFA table bills and the American Rescue Plan Act funds.

All of these and other items not discussed above or below are still under active consideration.

Votes today include:

  • Eliminates 13.5 positions from Long Creek Youth Development Center- Rep. Arata of New Gloucester rejected this initiative citing her personal concerns about how “secure” the facility is
  • Move $1M in CDC health outcome disparity funding to ARPA for the funding of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations
  • Supporting Higher Education providing 3% COLAs in each year, preventing tuition increases at all three systems
  • $40M state and federal funding to support COLAs and pandemic loses for Nursing Facilities
  • Rejecting General Fund (GF) for Curtis Hall for Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) to be funded instead with Maine Health and Higher Education Funding Authority (MEHEFA) coming out – not general fund 
  • Rejecting proposed changes to 340B drug pricing that would negatively impact rural facilities, including Planned Parenthood and Family Planning
  • $10M in PFAS remediation funds
  • Comprehensive dental care benefit for adults 
  • $4.7M in GF for the intensive outpatient pilot program (IOP) to address behavioral health needs 
  • Cost of Living Adjustments COLAs for family care homes, $8.5M GF
  • Funding for diabetes prevention programming
  • $1.6M GF for coordinated specialty care to support MaineCare members who experience a  first episode of psychosis 
  • $5M GF for SUD intensive outpatient services and rates
  • $5.4M GF to support hospitals response to COVID 
  • $2.6M GF COVID support for Private Non-Medical Institutions (PNMI)
  • $8M to support an increase in children in foster care

Caucusing and negotiations are ongoing. Meetings and votes will be announced with short notice. Those meetings and votes will be broadcast only on mic.

55% Education, 5% Revenue Sharing

This afternoon Appropriations unanimously approved nearly $300M in funding for General Purpose Aid to Education (GPA) and Municipal Revenue Sharing. Initiatives that are expected to slow growth in property taxes.

Important items approved today:

  • Municipal Revenue Sharing increased to 4.5% in FY22 and 5.0% in FY23 for $108M
  • 55% state share of local education costs, $183.7M over two years
  • Conform to federal tax provisions of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) including eliminating the sales tax on menstrual products, nearly $60M all told
  • $3M for the Aspirations program in the Department of Education
  • $225K for one-time COVID impacts at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone

No further public meetings are scheduled at this time. AFA members continue to meet frequently with one another, other members, leadership, staff, subject matter experts, and representatives of the administration in an effort to reach understanding and agreement on outstanding items.

Meetings will be announced and held quickly over the coming weeks. The best way to ensure you are notified of immanent meetings is to join the interested parties list.

Those meetings as well as any others will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

HHS Consolidation

AFA met this morning to vote in significant portions of the HHS budget and a handful of positions throughout state government.

The entire proposal for DHHS account and program consolidation of 13 MaineCare programs into 4 was approved today. Language ensuring that the same level of transparency available now will continue to be available in the future.

No further public meetings are scheduled at this time. AFA members will be meeting frequently with one another, other members, leadership, staff, subject matter experts, and representatives of the administration in an effort to reach understanding and agreement on outstanding items.

Meetings will be announced and held quickly over the coming weeks. The best way to ensure you are notified of immanent meetings is to join the interested parties list.

Those meetings as well as any others will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

Budget votes and ARPA Public Hearing

Appropriations convened twice today. Once for a work session on the budget, LD 221, and again for a public hearing on LD 1733, the Governor’s plan to spend the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

A breakdown of the proposals made by the governor can be found here.

AFA Ds planned to take significant votes on education items in the morning work session but that did not happen today.

Instead unanimous votes on a number of initiatives under the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry committee received approval including:

  • 9 limited period positions throughout the department
  • $700,000 for ongoing aircraft maintenance
  • The consolidation of 2 part-time Park Ranger positions into a full-time Park Ranger position

Also voted were a pair of initiatives from Criminal Justice and Education to move a single position from the Long Creek Youth Development Center (LCYDC) to the Department of Education. Rep. Fecteau of Augusta and Rep. Arata both opposed this move, opting to leave the position at Long Creek. All the Democrats on the committee and the remaining Republicans supported the transition.

The public hearing brought out supporters of the Governor’s plan and other seeking inclusion. The written testimony available as of this writing breaks down as follows:

Supporters

Earl Adams, Mission Readiness
Johannah Blackman, A Climate to Thrive
Brady Brim-Deforest, Northport
Jim Clair, ReadyNation
David Daigler, Maine Community College System
Ann Danforth, Maine Equal Justice
Kate Dufour, Maine Municipal Association
Kristina Egan, Greater Portland Council of Governments
Ellen Griswold, Maine Farmland Trust
Dave Keaton, Region 2 CTE Director, Houlton
Travis Kennedy, Cumberland County
Jennifer Kimble, Commission on Disability and Employment
Jeff Marks, Acadia Center
Jared Mills, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids
Margaret Mullin, Phippsburg
Bill Norbert, Finance Authority of Maine
Heather Perry, Gorham School Department
Curtis Picard, Retail Association of Maine
Sarah Strickland, Washington County
Brian Threlkeld, Portland
Eliza Townsend, Appalachian Mountain Club
Eric Venturini, Maine Wild Blueberry Commission
Tarlan Ahmadov, Maine Catholic Charities, Office of Refugee Resettlement
Judy Camuso, IF&W
Patrick Carroll, Jasper Wyman & Son
Carter Howard, City of Saco
Roger Crouse, Maine Rural Water Association
Fiona de Koning, Bar Harbor
David Dorr, Augusta
Joan Ferrini-Mundy, University of Maine
Ginette Rivard, Aroostook Community Collaborative
Amy Gallant, Good Shepherd Food Bank
Robin Goodwin, The Montalvo Corporation
Jennifer Gunderman, Maine AHEC Network
Justin Hafner, Portland
Lucas Holden, Saco
Patrick Keliher, DMR
Don Kleiner, Union
Nick Lund, Maine Audubon
Greg Payne, Maine Affordable Housing Coalition
Coleen Quint, Minot
Cristina Salois, Maine Headstart Directors Association
Heather Spaulding, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Michael Stoddard, Efficiency Maine Trust
Bruce Van Note, DOT
Sarah Woodbury, Defend Our Health

Seekers

Jeff Austin, Maine Hospital Association
Donald Harden, Catholic Charities of Maine
Lisa Harvey-McPherson, Maine Nursing Action Coalition
Amy Larkin, Arundel
Craig Saddlemire, Lewiston
Alan Cobo-Lewis, Orono
Eliza Cress, Bicycle Coalition of Maine
Amy Eshoo, 350 Maine
Jeremy Fischer, MELIG/ReadyNation
Jonathan Fulford, Sierra Club
Lisa Henderson, LeadingAge Maine & New Hampshire
Deborah Ibonwa, Augusta
Gina Morin, Auburn
Sen. Joe Rafferty, Senate District 34
Dorothy Treadwell, Auburn
Kathy Vezina, Maine Council on Aging
Tiana Warriner, Auburn

No further public meetings are scheduled at this time. AFA members will be meeting frequently with one another, other members, leadership, staff, subject matter experts, and representatives of the administration in an effort to reach understanding and agreement on outstanding items.

Meetings will be announced and held quickly over the coming weeks. The best way to ensure you are notified of immanent meetings is to join the interested parties list.

Those meetings as well as any others will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

Governor’s ARPA proposal language

Appropriations met Friday afternoon for a briefing from Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services Kirsten Figueroa on the Governor’s proposed distribution of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Previously detailed in the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan (MJRP), the bill language is now available on the Bureau of the Budget website.

Introduced as LD 1733 (no detail is at that link at the time of this writing), the plan differs slightly from the previously publicized plans. Those changes are:

  • Broadband- $21M of unallocated federal ARPA funds previously planned to be allocated in this bill will instead be allocated in a stand-alone broadband effort
  • Funds to effectively administer ARPA fund in Maine are expanded by $2M to $22M
  • Funding to support publicizing Opportunity Maine was pulled per federal guidance

A comparison of the initial proposal and the language received today is here. The linked document also has detail on the initiatives in today’s proposals.

No public hearing has been scheduled at this time.

AFA members will be meeting frequently with one another, other members, leadership, staff, subject matter experts, and representatives of the administration in an effort to reach understanding and agreement on outstanding items.

Meetings will be announced and held quickly over the coming weeks. The best way to ensure you are notified of immanent meetings is to join the interested parties list.

Those meetings as well as any others will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

Votes on CRJ and VLA, pending Governor’s bill on ARPA

Yesterday afternoon AFA met briefly to move in items from the Criminal Justice and Public Safety and Veterans and Legal Affairs report backs.

  • Funding for the reopening and operation of Downeast Correctional Facility
  • Support for corrections medical needs including medication assisted treatment (MAT) and treatment for hepatitis C
  • Include 2 Emergency Dispatch positions in the 1998 Special Retirement plan
  • Provides $6.8M for the state share of maintenance and improvements at Maine Army and Air National Guard Readiness Centers

It is expected that the Governor will share a bill this week to implement her Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan.

No further public meetings are scheduled at this time. AFA members will be meeting frequently with one another, other members, leadership, staff, subject matter experts, and representatives of the administration in an effort to reach understanding and agreement on outstanding items.

Meetings will be announced and held quickly over the coming weeks. The best way to ensure you are notified of immanent meetings is to join the interested parties list.

Those meetings as well as any others will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

Further votes

Appropriations held a brief work session this afternoon to approve a handful of further items from the Governor’s change package. Items like:

  • Establishing an Inspection Process Analyst in the Bureau of Agriculture
  • Establishing 2 seasonal Entomology Technician positions in the same bureau
  • Continue funding for 1 limited-period Comprehensive Planner position in the Office of MaineCare Services
  • In the Office of Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services provide funding for a new Intensive Outpatient Program for MaineCare members presenting high acuity to address gaps in the behavioral health system
  • Correct an error by restoring a Commission member to permanent status on the Board of Licensure in Medicine

No further public meetings are scheduled at this time. AFA members will be meeting frequently with one another, other members, leadership, staff, subject matter experts, and representatives of the administration in an effort to reach understanding and agreement on outstanding items.

Meetings will be announced and held quickly over the coming weeks. The best way to ensure you are notified of immanent meetings is to join the interested parties list.

Those meetings as well as any others will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

Initial change package votes

Appropriations convened this afternoon to take initial votes on items in the Governor’s proposed change package to the budget. All votes are informed by the deliberations and recommendations of policy committees.

Dozens of minor initiatives were approved or moved out per the change package and the recommendations of the policy committees.

Noteworthy votes include:

  • Eliminate proposals to lower psychiatric discharge rates and to eliminate exemptions to those rates
  • Recognition of FMAP increases from federal aid and the reductions in General Fund spending they allow
  • Funding for Maine Warden Service aircraft
  • Language recognizing the change of the Food Supplement program to SNAP
  • Rejection of language to establish a Senior Legal Advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services
  • Rejection of language to use one-day borrowing to balance each fiscal year of the next biennium

Report backs on the change package continue to be received. At the time of this writing the following change package report backs are not available on the AFA Committee Materials website:

  • Criminal Justice and Public Safety
  • Health and Human Services
  • Judiciary
  • Transportation

No further public meetings are scheduled at this time.

Those meetings as well as any others will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

Bonds, Substance Use Disorder (SUD), & scheduling

Appropriations met this morning to hold public hearings for the most recent set of bond bills, including the Governor’s bond sponsored by Rep. Pierce. The bonds are:

LD 1526, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Strengthen University of Maine System Workforce Education and Innovation

LD 1597, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Strengthen Maine’s Health Care Workforce

LD 1637, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Provide Funds for Maine To Meet the State’s Carbon Reduction Goals by Supporting the Use of Biofuels

LD 1647, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Provide Funds for Infrastructure Projects across the State and To Direct the Department of Environmental Protection To Establish a State Infrastructure Adaptation Fund and Predevelopment Assistance Program

LD 1698, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Create a Public-Private Partnership To Create Biomass Energy Facilities in Aroostook County and To Connect Aroostook County to ISO New England

LD 1702, An Act To Authorize General Fund Bond Issues To Improve Transportation and National Guard Infrastructure and To Promote the Conservation of Land, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation

LD 348, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Fund the Transition from a Fossil Fuel-based to an Electrical Energy Economy

Gordon Smith, Director of the Governor’s Opiate response spoke to the committee in the afternoon.

Schedule

A public hearing on the Governor’s change package will begin at 9:30 AM on Thursday, May 20.

Those meetings as well as any others will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.