This afternoon Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS), Sawin Millett presented information to the Appropriations committee about the Governor’s recently announced $119.5M shortfall. He was unable to provide detailed answers to questions about shortfalls in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
Reading from a prepared statement the commissioner discussed DHHS. In MaineCare the administration projects a $52.47M shortfall in this fiscal year, FY14, and $55.56M in FY15. The department feels that the shortfall is due to both increased utilization and to the failure to achieve savings promised in the budget.
FY15 figures are not yet final.
Commissioner Millet was unable to provide detail about which savings initiatives have not achieved what level of savings.
With respect to Riverview Psychiatric Center (RPC) the commissioner noted that funds are needed to provide: additional psychiatric staff, improved security and salary parity.
Nearly $14.6M will be needed to address the decertification of RPC by the federal government and the loss of funds resulting from that.
Finally, the department claims that exemptions provided to assist legal non-citizens has created a need for $600,000.
Turning to the rest of state government the commissioner outlined shortfalls, additional funding requests and the resurrection of initiatives rejected in the biennial budget.
The items are in the following departments:
- Department of Administrative and Financial Services
- Department of Corrections
- Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management
- Department of Education
- Judicial Branch
DAFS seeks to make adjustments previously ordered to the State Health plan and to cover projected increases in reimbursements to municipalities under the Homestead program.
Within Corrections $3.3M is needed to address the FY15 costs of LD 1515 as passed in last fall’s Special Session.
DEVM requests funding for the state portion of the new National Guard headquarters and for the state share of disaster relief funding.
The administration wants $2.9M for FY15 to support education initiatives rejected in the biennial budget. Less than $300,000 is also requested to correct a technical error relating to the normal cost of retirement costs of educators in Career Technical Education regions and in state operated schools (such as the Governor Baxter School).
The Judiciary seeks funding for Guardian ad Litem services, increased reimbursement for Medical Malpractice Pre-Litigation Panels as well as longevity payments to Judicial branch employees.
DAFS will share blippies and back up information with OFPR for these initiatives but not proposals for addressing them.
Sen. Cain in an exchange with Millett raised that some of items characterized as a shortfall may be considered new spending.
Rep. Carey asked when we can expect hard information on DHHS. The Commissioner deferred to answers to be provided by Commissioner Mayhew at some point in the future.
Following the Commissioner’s presentation the committee assembled a list of questions to be submitted in writing for Commissioner Millet’s consideration and that of Commissioner Mayhew.
Those questions include:
- What savings are available to address the shortfall? Can you please provide us with program and account level data?
- Is DHHS assuming a reduced cost for Non-Emergency Transportation due to the termination and reissue of contracts currently held by CTS.
- What are the particulars of the increased utilization referenced by DHHS?
- How has the situation changed such that the various Department of Education initiatives rejected in the biennial budget are again under consideration?
- Are there federal funds available to address portions of this shortfall?
- Would you please outline for us the line items in the DHHS budget that are experiencing shortfalls?
- Which savings initiatives have been successful?
- Can OFPR provide us with a breakdown of which initiatives are shortfalls and which could be considered new spending?
- Please tell us which savings initiatives have achieved savings and are expected to achieve savings?
- What solutions does the Governor propose? Will he submit a Supplemental budget to address this serious situation?
- How does this shortfall impact plans to release voter approved bonds? Is it the Governor’s plan to release all of the bonds for which projects are in place such as Transportation?
- When can we expect answers to these questions?
While the committee compiled these questions Commissioner Millett shared that the next revision of the Revenue Forecasting Commission is expected at the end of February or the beginning of March.
Appropriations will convene tomorrow at 1:00 PM to hold a public hearing on the proposals contained in Director Rosen’s Office of Policy and Management report to save $33M.
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.