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Change package details

Change package details

AFA met with Commissioner Figueroa to receive details of the Governor’s change package. Previewed on Wednesday, the change package will now be considered by the Legislature.

Documents are available here:

Parts A and B

Language

Fiscal Note

Highlights not revealed on Wednesday include:

  • Substantial resources for treatment of Substance Abuse Disorder (SUD)
  • Details of the MaineCare reform proposals including reimbursement rate changes
  • Transfer of funding from Long Creek Youth Development Center to support new community-based juvenile housing and programming in Juvenile Community Corrections program, including the elimination of 13.5 positions
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility for children regardless of immigration status
  • Increased salary range for the Executive Director of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services (MCILS) to assist with recruitment and retention
  • Changes compensation for assigned and contract counsel in MCILS to routine technical rulemaking
  • 16 temporary Career Center Consultant positions
  • $1.5M increase for Post-secondary course payments in public schools
  • $225K additional assistance for the Maine School of Science and Mathematics
  • Establishment of adult MaineCare dental coverage
  • $100K for the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women for the examination of health care, childcare and work force challenges

Schedule

Tuesday, May 18 AFA holds public hearings for new bond bills including the Governor’s bond package, LD 1702. The hearings begin at 10:00 AM.

At 2:00 PM Gordon Smith, the Governor’s Director of Opioid Response, will speak with the committee.

Wednesday, May 19 the Legislature will be in session at the Augusta Civic Center.

A public hearing on the Governor’s change package will begin at 9:30 AM on Thursday, May 20.

Those meetings as well as any others will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

Health and Human Services votes

This morning Appropriations met to take preliminary votes on unanimously approved report back recommendations from the Health and Human Services Committee. At this time the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is the only committee not considered by AFA.

Criminal Justice is also the only committee that has not submitted a completed report back.

Highlights of the HHS votes taken today include:

  • Funding to implement the integrated care management system at Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor and the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta
  • Funding to continue the Crisis Center demonstration in Cumberland County
  • Eliminates funding for the Maine Children’s Growth Council
  • Continued support for the development of the new child welfare information system
  • Reorganizations, reclassifications, transfers and adjustments to positions department wide
  • Implementation funding for a new standardized developmental disability assessment
  • Additional support for the Sec. 29 waiver serving those with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder
  • Rejection of the creation of legal positions within the department
  • Inflation adjustments for PMNI facilities
  • Creation of an intensive outpatient treatment program for high-acuity MaineCare members within the behavioral health system
  • Conforming estate recovery rules with federal guidelines
  • Rejection of reduced outpatient reimbursement to IMD (institutes for mental disease) facilities
  • Rejection of the elimination of exemptions for psychiatric unit discharge rates
  • Rejection of changes to 340-B prescription drug program reimbursements
  • Rejection of the elimination of pharmacy incentive payments in rural areas
  • Rejection of reductions in the MaineCare prescription drug dispensing fee
  • Rejection of the elimination of bed hold payments to nursing facilities

It is important to note that any initiatives not yet considered have not been rejected but only not addressed at this time. This applies to all report backs from policy committees.

Friday at 1:00 PM AFA will meet to receive a full briefing from the Administration on the Governor’s change package to LD 221, the supplemental budget. An overview of this plan was released today and is discussed below.

Committee members will continue to caucus and discuss outstanding initiatives with the intention of announcing future work sessions.

Those meetings as well as the others noted above will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

New bills, ARP guidance, Schedule, and Change package highlights

Public Hearings and Work Sessions

Yesterday morning AFA held public hearings for a pair of bills intended to further facilitate the distribution of American Rescue Plan Act funds (ARP).

LD 1697, An Act To Establish a Homeowner Assistance Fund Program and Provide for the Distribution of Funds

LD 1700, An Act To Provide Allocations for the Administration of State Fiscal Recovery Funds

LD 1697 allocates $50M in federal funds for the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) to be administered through the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. The HAF is intended to “prevent mortgage delinquencies and defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities or home energy services, and displacement of homeowners experiencing financial hardship…” (From the US Treasury)

LD 1700 provides $4.2M of ARP funds for the resources necessary to ensure the proper oversight, control and reporting of ARP funds within and throughout the state and the various organizations, agencies and municipalities for which the state serves as a pass through agent.

The committee reconvened in the afternoon to give both bills unanimous Ought to Pass reports.

ARP Guidance from the US Treasury

Monday, May 11, 2021 the US Treasury released the Interim Final Rule (IFR) that will serve as the primary guidance for the use of ARP funds. We continue to review this rule and calculate its impacts on Maine. If members have questions please let me know.

Schedule

Tomorrow, Thursday, May 13 at 10:00AM, Appropriations holds a work session to take votes on unanimously agreed upon initiatives from the report back of the Health and Human Services committee.

It is important to note that any initiatives not yet considered have not been rejected but only not addressed at this time. This applies to all report backs from policy committees.

Friday at 1:00 PM AFA will meet to receive a full briefing from the Administration on the Governor’s change package to LD 221, the supplemental budget. An overview of this plan was released today and is discussed below.

Committee members will continue to caucus and discuss outstanding initiatives with the intention of announcing future work sessions.

Change Package

Governor Mills announced her change package to address the supplemental budget this afternoon. Fueled by the recent reforecast of revenues there are a number of highlights:

  • $187M to increase General Purpose Aid to local education to 55% for the first time
  • $47M for the University of Maine System, Maine Community College System and Maine Maritime Academy for a 3% increase in both years and renovations to MMA’s Curtis Hall and $700K in funding for the UMS tick lab
  • $20M to increase the Maine State Grant program from $1,000 to $2,500
  • $50M to recapitalize the School Renovation Revolving Loan Fund
  • $150M within MaineCare including $46M for the first round of provider rate increases based on the recently completed rate study by the Department of Health and Human Services
  • $15.4M in one-time supplemental payments for hospitals and long-term care facilities
  • $90M to be transferred to the MaineCare Stabilization Fund
  • $1.3M to exempt the sale of menstrual products from the sales tax
  • $32M to offset the lost revenue anticipated by forbidding the sale of flavored tobacco products
  • $22M to improve the Property Tax Fairness Credit including a one-time boost in the maximum benefit from $750/$1,000 to $1,200/$1,500, and a permanent lowering of the percentage of income used for rent or mortgage in order to be eligible from 5% to 4%- increasing the effective eligibility to $83K
  • $38M to conform with the tax changes made in the ARP including changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • $80M to increase Municipal Revenue Sharing to 4.5% in the upcoming fiscal year and to 5% in the last year of the biennium
  • $40M to address PFAS chemicals, $15M for farmers, $15M for water clean up, $5M for testing, and $5M for disposal of waste
  • $5M for the Municipal Culvert Program
  • $5.5M in climate grants
  • $6.8M for National Guard infrastructure, to be matched with $7.6M of federal funds
  • $87M in capital construction to eliminate the “catch-up” maintenance, upkeep, and improvements at all Capitol area state facilities
  • $18M transfer from the General Fund to the Highway Fund in addition to the millions in debt service already used to repay hundreds of millions in transportation bonds
  • $52M transfer to the Budget Stabilization Fund
  • $6.7M to repair and upgrade the Forest Service air fleet
  • $4.1M for state owned dams
  • $14M for the corrections medical contract
  • $6M for the Tree Growth Tax Credit Program
  • $875K for the State Museum to aid their return to the Cultural Building
  • $1M for the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous, and Maine Tribal Populations
  • A balance of $21M for other Legislative priorities

Details and language of the change package are expected to be shared at the work session on Friday afternoon.

That meeting as well as the others noted above will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

Low-hanging fruit

Appropriations met this morning to continue accepting the unanimous recommendations of policy committees on LD 221, now the supplemental budget. Initiatives from every committee except Health and Human Services and Criminal Justice and Public Safety have now been considered.

The highlights include:

Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

  • Funding for fire suppression costs and pilot training in the Division of Forest Protection
  • Rename the Office of the Commissioner
  • Assorted position reorganizations, reclassifications, transfers and reallocations

Education and Cultural Affairs

  • Assorted position reorganizations, reclassifications, transfers and reallocations

Environment and Natural Resources

  • One-time equipment replacement related to monitoring of air, soil and water quality
  • Assorted position reorganizations, reclassifications, transfers and reallocations

Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

  • Transfer or All Other funds to Capital Expenditures for the purchase of ATVs, snowmobiles, boats, boat motors, trailers, and an electrofishing backpack
  • Assorted position reorganizations, reclassifications, transfers and reallocations
  • Authorization to purchase a pair of aircraft engines

Marine Resources

  • Assorted position reorganizations, reclassifications, transfers and reallocations
  • Establish the Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat program

Judiciary

  • Rejection of additional positions for the Office of the Attorney General
  • Premium overtime and standby pay for Medical Examiner Assistants
  • Establish 1 Assistant Attorney General in the Child Protection division
  • Assorted position reorganizations, reclassifications, transfers and reallocations

State and Local Government

  • Assorted position reorganizations, reclassifications, transfers and reallocations
  • One-time funding for the McKin site settlement fund

Taxation

  • Reimbursement to municipalities for the reduction in property tax revenues due to exempting renewable energy equipment from property tax consideration
  • Assorted position reorganizations, reclassifications, transfers and reallocations

Veterans and Legal Affairs

  • Assorted position reorganizations, reclassifications, transfers and reallocations
  • Increasing the compensation of the Director of the Office Marijuana Policy
  • Funding for environmental closure activity at the former Maine Military Authority in Limestone
  • Retains staff positions in the Bureau of Veterans Services

Members will continue to caucus with respect to policy committee report backs. Stand by for announcements with respect to future meetings of the Appropriations committee.

Meetings will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from those meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

Full RFC report, next budget work session

AFA met this morning to receive the official report back of the Maine Revenue Forecasting Committee (RFC). As discussed last week projections have increased significantly from the predictions made at the outset of the pandemic. Due to substantial Federal intervention revenues are at or slightly above their pre-pandemic levels.  

FY21FY22FY23
$479,428,979$241,344,813$219,186,512

FY21, this fiscal year has increased since the RFC meeting on Tuesday due to a subsequent meeting on Friday to recognize the settlement of a particularly large estate.

GF status for the current biennium adjusted for the new forecast is here.

GF status for the upcoming biennium adjusted for the new forecast is here.

The RFC transmittal memo is here.

Full revenue detail for the new forecast is here.

Members will continue to caucus with respect to policy committee report backs.

Thursday, May 6 AFA will hold another work session at 10:00 AM for LD 221, the supplemental budget.

That meeting will be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from that meeting and future meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

Members will continue to caucus with respect to policy committee report backs.

Final bond hearings, next week’s schedule

AFA held its last in the long series of previously referred general fund bond bills today. The following bills received hearings this morning:

LD 373, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Maine’s Railroad Infrastructure

LD 987, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for the Portland Harbor Commercial Revitalization Project’s Confined Aquatic Disposal Cell and Dredging Projects

LD 1086, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Upgrade Customs Facilities at the Portland International Jetport and the Bangor International Airport To Promote International Tourism and Commerce

Any bonds that have not yet had a public hearing should get those in the future.

Thursday, May 6 AFA will hold another work session at 10:00 AM for LD 221, the supplemental budget.

The schedule for other public meetings of the Appropriations committee will be announced soon. Members will be caucusing to consider remaining recommendations from policy committee report backs.

The Revenue Forecasting Committee will present their report to the Appropriations committee on Monday, May 3 at 10:00 AM.

Those meetings will all be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from that meeting and future meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

Bond hearings and Revenue Forecasting Committee

The penultimate day of public hearings on referred bonds began this morning. AFA heard from sponsors and proponents of the following bills:

The committee amendment for LD 1507, An Act To Establish a Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program and Allocation is available now. This bill will be considered tomorrow in session.

Hearings on referred bond bills concludes Thursday at 10:00 AM. The full schedule can be found here.

Those meetings will all be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from that meeting and future meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

Revenue Forecast Committee

The Revenue Forecast Committee (RFC) convened this afternoon to implement the recommendations of the Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission (CEFC). General Fund revenues are slated to increase by $922.5M over this fiscal year (FY21) and the upcoming biennium.

FY21FY22FY23
$461,928,979$241,344,813$219,186,512

Due to extraordinary actions by the Federal government, Maine’s economy is roughly back to where it was projected to be before the pandemic. $83M over with respect to this fiscal year and $58M next year according to the Governor. It is worth noting that a great deal of this activity may be associated with one-time federal funds.

The RFC will present the report to the Appropriations committee on Monday, May 3.

More bonds, environment and conservation

Public hearings on referred bonds continued this morning. AFA heard from sponsors and proponents of the following bills:

Voted last week, the committee amendment for LD 1507, An Act To Establish a Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program and Allocation, should be available soon.

Hearings on referred bond bills resumes on tomorrow at 10:00 AM. The full schedule can be found here.

Those meetings will all be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from that meeting and future meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

End of bond hearings week 1

Public hearings on referred bonds continued this morning. AFA heard from sponsors and proponents of the following bills:

Hearings on referred bond bills resumes on Monday at 10:00 AM. The full schedule can be found here.

Those meetings will all be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from that meeting and future meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.

Federal funds & bond hearings day 2

The work session for LD 1507, An Act To Establish a Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program and Allocation this morning resulted in an OTP-AM report.

Questions asked by the committee yesterday yielded some answers:

  • There is no existing guidance for the Unorganized Territories
  • Municipal budgets used to determine funding levels are the most recently passed as of January 27, 2020
  • Allocations are capped at 75% of that budget
  • Additional information is available in a memo from the Commissioner

LD 1507 will be before the House on Wednesday, April 28. Guidance from the US Treasury is forthcoming, it is not expected until the middle of May.

LD 1507 is necessary to allow the state to distribute federal funds from the American Recovery Plan Act (ARP) to municipalities. Amounts by town can be found in the Commissioner’s testimony.

Maine “Metro” locales are slated to receive the following directly:

CityAmount (in millions)
Auburn$14.2
Bangor$21.1$
Biddeford$11.7
Lewiston$22.8
Portland$48.2

Counties can expect to receive the following directly:

CountyAmount (in millions)
Androscoggin$21M
Aroostook$13M
Cumberland$57.2M
Franklin$5.9M
Hancock$10.7M
Kennebec$23.7M
Knox$7.7M
Lincoln$6.7M
Oxford$11.2M
Penobscot$29.5M
Piscataquis$3.3M
Sagadahoc$6.9M
Somerset$9.8M
Waldo$7.7M
Washington$6.1M
York$40.3M

AFA also approved LD 1506, Resolve, To Continue until July 1, 2021 Limited-period Positions Expiring in June 2021 which does exactly what the title says.

The meeting continued in the afternoon with public hearings on the following bonds:

Thursday AFA wraps up public hearings on referred bond bills. The full schedule can be found here.

Those meetings will all be broadcast both on mic and on camera.

Votes and discussions from that meeting and future meetings will be found here along with history on past budgets.