AFA sought information from DHHS, caucused and took votes on both FY14 and FY15 initiatives.
You can find audio from today’s meetings here:
Hoping to receive information from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) the committee convened shortly before 3:00 PM. The department chose not to appear.
AFA has questions concerning the $45M requested for FY14 and $35M requested for FY15. To date DHHS has not provided adequate answers to the components of this request. Much of it is requested on the basis of a forecasting model. Members of the committee are not confident that the model or forecast are reliable.
Rep. Carey led the discussion. Meetings with DHHS since February 19th have not yielded success in unpacking the lines that make up the $45M and $35M shortfalls.
- What are the shortfalls composed of?
- What are the cost drivers?
- Why does the budget not appear to reflect the termination of services to childless adults?
- Why are $12M in increases necessary to account for the change in hospital payments to a DRG, Pay as you go, system not included in the old forecast and subsequently in the budget?
DHHS claims that there is no point in looking at a budget now that actual numbers are available.
The department will not share a detailed cash flow document such as was shared last year.
Commissioner Millett of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) spoke briefly about what is seen as DHHS’s intransigence offering that some information arrived as Rep. Carey spoke.
This information did not answer outstanding questions.
The committee unanimously approved language to allow the transfer of $50,000 from Personal Services to All Other within the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services. The Judiciary sought permission to transfer roughly $250,000 from Personal Services to All Other to support court operations. The committee approved amended language that specifies that the authority is to transfer not more than $250,000. Language from the Secretary of State allowing the carry forward of unexpended All Other and Capital Expenditure lines within Archives for the purpose of purchasing computer hardware and software to preserve and provide public access to state records. This was also unanimously approved.
Action was taken on FY15 Initiatives:
- Approved $3.3M to support a mental health unit at Maine State Prison in Warren
- Approved $118,027 for Career Technical Education educator retirement costs
- Approved $880K to improve salary competitiveness and safety at Riverview Psychiatric Center (RPC) and Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center (DDPC)
- Approved savings to the General Fund due to an increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP)
- Approved $141,158 to support the correction of a longevity initiative in the Judiciary
- Approved $100,000 for the increased cost of psychological exams in the Judiciary
- Rejected a cap on the credit for the rehabilitation of historic properties
FY 14 Initiatives
Returning after a long break for dinner and caucusing the committee voted on a number of other FY14 items
- Approved transferring $4.8M of unanticipated casino/racino cascade funds from GPA
- Approved a reduced cut to the Competitive Skills Scholarship Program (CSSP) of $950,000. The Department of Labor is authorized to breach the 10% cap on administrative spending in order to allow the ability to spend $550,000 in order to expand those served by the program from 225 to 440
- Approved a transfer of $1M from $5M provided last year to State Foster Care Adoption Program
- Rejected a sweep of casino/racino cascade funds for student aid in Higher Education
- Approved a $250,000 transfer from the Medical Marijuana Fund
- Approved a series of self-funded position reclassifications
The last major obstacle to resolving FY14, this fiscal year, is reaching confidence in the numbers DHHS claims for its shortfalls.
Among the outstanding requests are:
- A detailed cash flow now until the close of this fiscal year
- The opportunity to talk with staff about the details of the forecast
AFA will return to Room 228 Tuesday afternoon with the intention of completing work on FY14 supplemental needs.
The full schedule may be found here: http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/appropriations_committee/schedule_agendas/index.htm
As always please join the committee in Room 228, listen online at: http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/appropriations_committee/audio/index.htm or watch MPBN’s Capitol Connection broadcast either here: http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineCapitolConnection.aspx, over the air or through your cable provider.