May 10, 2013- Budget progress & AG’s Office

Summary

 The Appropriations Committee voted 58 more budget lines into the Biennial Budget, of which 46 lines are part of the Energy and Natural Resources budget.  The 11 remaining budget lines are part of the Education [6 lines], State and Local Government [3 lines], and Health and Human Services [2 lines].

Prior to voting, the Appropriations Committee discussed with the Attorney General and Dr. Greenwald, the Chief Medical Examiner, their request for additional funding.    The original request was $300,000 for each year of the Biennium, and the Judiciary Committee reduced the request to $110,000 in each year of the Biennium.   In addition, the Governor’s budget proposed an increase in payment to medical examiners from $70 and examination to $100 an examination.  The Judiciary Committee reduced this request to $85 per examination.

There is a very significant backlog of cases in the Medical Examiner’s Office – as much as a 7 month backlog.   Families are forced to wait months for death certificates which are necessary for insurance and other purposes.   The goal is to reduce the amount of time to issue death certificates to 1 month for homicides and 2 months for 90% of all other cases.

The Chief Medical Examiner is requesting an additional death investigator that is not currently in the budget.   The request for $30,000 in each year of the biennium is in the budget to pay for part-time pathologists who assist in autopsies.

Each Democratic member of the Appropriations Committee continues to research budget items that have been assigned to them.   To date, the Appropriations Committee has voted roughly 540 lines into the budget, or nearly half the total number of  lines in the budget.

Further Voting

 This afternoon the Appropriations committee met to take further votes on the budget. Unanimous votes were taken on initiatives overseen by the following committees:

Education and Cultural Affairs

  • Position transfers
    • Rejected the transfer of $1M for the legal expenses of the Charter School Commission, Board of Education and the Department of Education
  • Environment and Natural Resources
    • A number of position transfers and eliminations
  • Health and Human Services
    • Moved out the proposal to transfer Head Start to a performance based contract
  • State and Local Government
    • Funds to allow a peer audit of the Department of Audit

Schedule

The committee will work this weekend but not meet on mic.

Monday morning at 10:00 AM AFA will return for further work sessions and be joined at 1:00 PM by Therese Cahill-Low, Director, Office of Child and Family Services, Department of Health and Human Services for a Discussion of Foster Care and Adoption Programs.

The full schedule may be found here:

Audio and more

Please feel free to join the committee as they do their work. You may also listen online using the following link: http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/appropriations_committee/audio/index.htm

You also may watch broadcasts of these and other committee hearings on the Maine Capitol Connection pilot channel through Maine Public Broadcasting.  You may watch over the air or through your cable provider as well as online here: http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineCapitolConnection.aspx

Thank you and please let me know if you have questions.

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