Today the Appropriations Committee continued its deliberations and research, following adjournment of the Senate at roughly 2:30 PM. The Committee voted unanimously to:
- Fund one  Visual Rehabilitation Therapist 1 position [LCED-44 Ref 1999, and
- Vote out Ref # 2001 on Page LCED-45, with the net result of funding one  teacher of the visually impaired. Previously AFA voted in voted in funding for another teacher for the visually impaired earlier on so we are in fact funding two teachers and one therapist.
- Return to the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee the new initiative to provide $3 million of assistance to dairy farmers. The Agriculture Committee’s proposal did not adequately specify how the distribution of the $3 million would be made – specifically whether to reimburse small and medium dairy farmers more than larger dairy farmers. Testimony of this issue was heated at times between small and large dairy farmers.
- Return to the Agriculture Committee the proposal for funding the Agricultural Fair Support Fund, which needed to be clarified that the rate would be 13% and not 6 percent.
- Amend the provisions of the budget regarding the Construction of a new prison in Windham to require an independent feasibility study to include operating costs as well as staffing [Part HH language].
- Remove language authorizing financing of the prison following the issuance of the independent study,
- Identify the sources of funding for the independent study,
- Increase the Special Housing Allowance in the TANF program from $100 per month to $200 per month,
- Cap the amount of the Real Estate Transfer Tax revenues transferred to the Maine State Housing Authority.
- The Appropriations Democrats continued their deliberations until nearly 10:00 P.M.
The committee will meet either on mic or in caucuses every night this week, please feel free to join them in Room 228.
The full schedule may be found here: http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/appropriations_committee/schedule_agendas/index.htm
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.