AFA Update- October 13, 2015

The Appropriations and Financial Affairs committee held an off session meeting today to explore items of ongoing concern.

Audio of today’s meeting is here.

AFA heard from Sandy Matheson, Executive Director of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MePERS) about the current performance of the state’s retirement funds. 2015 was characterized as a “challenging” year. The current balance of the fund is $12.1B as of today.

ED Matheson’s materials are here.

The committee held a pair of work sessions on MePERS legislation.

LD 212, An Act Concerning Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Certain Retirees

LD 927, An Act To Remove the Age Penalty for State Retirees Working at Institutions That Are Closing for Purpose of Guiding Fiscal Impact Estimates

The committee voted to explore cost effective informal estimates of the fiscal impacts of these bills and will consider that information at their November meeting.

Without the participation of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) AFA expressed concerns about the pending RFP of the Mental Health Crisis system.

In an echo of the situation regarding non-emergency MaineCare transportation, DHHS is seeking to create a unified statewide mental health crisis system to replace the current locally based mental health crisis system.

Providers came forward to share their concerns about pending changes. Lawmakers formulated questions for the Department that will be submitted to the Governor as he has requested.

Rep. Rotundo submitted additional questions regarding what is seen as the dismantling of the Division of the Blind and Visually Impaired within the Department of Labor. According to communications from providers and consumers the Department is seeking to collapse the Division into the Vocational Rehabilitation program. Consumers feel that they have not been duly consulted as required by statue. They also point to position eliminations in the Division.

Documents provided by providers are here, here and here.

After lunch the Director of the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Oversight (OPEGA), Beth Ashcroft shared the OPEGA report, “Office of Information Technology Follow-up Review”

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) continues to face challenges:

Issues OPEGA noted during this review:

  • Lack of executive-level governance for information technology adversely affects the State’s ability to address critical information technology matters.
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity planning efforts have not mitigated risks associated with potential disasters or catastrophic system failures.
  • Data governance and analytics capabilities and practices are inconsistent across the Executive Branch and are at an immature level.
  • Roles, responsibilities and expectations of OIT and the agencies it serves are not clearly defined or communicated.
  • OIT’s current funding model does not ensure sufficient resources for core IT activities common and critical to all State agencies.
  • OIT project managers cannot fully estimate costs on proposed projects or perform complete budget to actual cost analysis on IT projects in progress.
  • OIT needs to continue efforts to further mitigate IT-related risks for the State, move toward industry best practices, and improve the services it provides.

Mike Allen of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) shared the September revenue report, which also doubles as a first quarter report for FY16.

Currently revenues are over budget for the current fiscal year by $10.8M or 1.3%.

Lastly, State Budget Officer, Melissa Gott appeared to answer questions about the recent position vacancy report. The report is here.

AFA will meet again in November on Wednesday the 4th at 10:00 AM. In addition to regular business the committee will hold a confirmation hearing for the Governor’s appointment to the Maine Public Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees in the afternoon.



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