This morning the Appropriations and Financial Affairs committee continued work on items from the State Board of Corrections, ongoing concerns about DHHS and bonding.
Audio from today’s meeting may be found here:
State Board of Correction
Ryan Thornell, Executive Director of the State Board of Corrections (SBOC), opened the meeting with an update on anticipated year end activity at the SBOC. They expect to have a small carry forward after meeting approved requests for supplemental funding. There are existing requests that staff does not recommend being approved by the SBOC.
Many counties volunteered to forgo 4th quarter distributions.
Funding has been set aside to make outstanding payments to Somerset County pending the resolution of ongoing litigation.
York County is the largest outstanding requester of supplemental funds. They have not supplied details to support their request.
Materials from Ryan’s presentation are available here.
Analysis has shown that in past years significant carry forwards had cushioned needs, concealing the impact that revenues no longer met distributions to county jails. As those carry forwards diminished the SBOC made larger supplemental requests.
To address this mismatch SBOC staff and their financial focus group is proposing to the full SBOC that distributions to county jails be reduced to meet revenues. It is important to note that no county is proposed to receive less funding than provided in FY14.
Maine Public Broadcasting Network
Mark Volgelzang of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) spoke to the committee on three items
- Infrastructure (broadcasting and emergency alert system)
- Capitol Connection
- Future bonding requests
The current state appropriation to MPBN is $1.7M, it declines to $1.5M in FY15. The total annual cost of the broadcasting/emergency alert system is $2.7M.
Much of the large broadcasting infrastructure is approaching the end of its 20 year lifespan. Now is the appropriate time to begin discussions about securing funding for those needs.
Regarding Capitol Connection, MPBN believes that it would cost $450,000 to provide coverage of a single Legislative session. A total of $900,000 for a full session. MPBN hopes that the Legislature will provide this funding in addition to providing the content. This does not include $175,000 for upgraded House Chamber cameras which MPBN hopes the Legislature will also provide these funds.
Mark’s budget for Capitol Connection can be found here.
Child care licensing
Ken Alpert of DHHS’s Division of Licensure received questions on the recent addition of staff for child care licensure. Most significantly, Ken shared that the federal funding used for these positions has been available for some time. It is not clear why the department previously chose not to pursue those funds.
Riverview Psychiatric Center
Jay Harper, acting Superintendent of the Riverview Psychiatric Center (RPC) addressed previously submitted questions regarding RPC.
The department has received word that the facilities are compliant with federal requirements. No word has come from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the program aspects at RPC.
Jay provided information about the apparent impact of newly hired Acuity Specialists (AS) on restraints and seclusions. The Lower Saco forensic unit has seen a decrease in restraints and seclusions since AS started in March. This chart shows that impact in comparison with the civil unit in Lower Kennebec. AS will begin in the Lower Kennebec unit soon. The chart measures hours of restraint or seclusion, a spike may involve several instances for a single patient.
The Department chose again to not attend or participate in AFA’s meeting. Written responses, in some cases answers, were provided to previously submitted questions. Those responses are available here.
Chris Nolan of the Office of Fiscal and Program Review (OFPR) shared his analysis of payments to the ride brokers, in particular to CTS, the troubled broker whose contracts end this July. Chris’s Analysis.
In May CTS received a $5M payment. As DHHS does not provide information on what is being purchased OFPR cannot say if CTS will receive further payments in June.
Initially CTS contracts were to transition July 1. This has been pushed back to August 1.
The HHS committee has not received information from DHHS about CTS payments or performance bond and payment bond requirements.
Representative Rochelo asked what measures are being used in the transition. No one from the department was available to answer this question, it is being provided in writing.
May revenue information may be found here:
DHHS estimates that the funding provided by the Legislature will be sufficient to meet all cycle payments for the remainder of FY2014.
Chris Nolan estimates that nursing homes will receive an additional $12.3M in FY2015. No one from the department was available to answer questions.
Public Health Grants
The department has declined to pursue significant public health and smoking cessation grants, grants that would address concerns raised by the Governor in his veto of important public health legislation.
AFA meets again on August 19th.