Saturday, June 3- Final committee votes on multiple reports

As you are likely now aware, members of the Appropriations Committee came to work on Friday and began the long process of voting the biennial budget line by line. They worked an incredibly long day and well into the night and just finished voting after 1:00 AM

At the end, Democrats issued a majority report focusing our efforts on retaining property tax relief for working families, full funding of K-12 public education and protecting our most vulnerable people.   

Senate and House Republicans split, issuing two Republican reports. The House Republicans  supported the governor’s education plan. Neither report provided any new revenue to replace the 3% surcharge they propose repealing.

What will happen next is a renewed effort and commitment to continue working on the budget through the AFA committee, while leaders also work to close the gap on our differences surrounding funding of public education.   

Below, please find a summary of a few of the initiatives approved or changed in the Appropriations Committee.

    • Increases investment in Maine students, schools, and teachers and full funding  of K-12 public education at $320 million, as demanded by voters TWICE.
    • Bolsters property tax relief: Rejected an elimination of the Homestead exemption for most families, as originally proposed in Administration budget.
    • Decreased mandated mil rate by 1% with increased school funding.
    • Rejects new tax increases: Eliminates Republican proposal of sales tax expansion.
    • Invests in higher education: Funds the University of Maine system.
    • Supports job training: Funds the Maine Community College Systems Strategic Workforce Initiative, designed to give Mainers the skills and training necessary for immediate employment.
    • Protected vital services: Rejected damaging cuts to Head Start, MaineCare and Community Family Planning.
    • Improves disability services: Doubles the number of Mainers who can receive services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities under the Section 29 waiver.
    • Address Maine’s Opioid Epidemic: Increased funding for Opioid Health Homes.
    • Strengthens Consumer protections: Retains funding to the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s office.
    • Funded Indigent Legal Service: Increased funding to cover the 2017 shortfall and fully funding this constitutional obligation.

Here are amendments, language and lines considered this evening

Highlights of votes taken this evening are below Bold numbers contribute to majority votes (Many 6-6 votes are in fact part of the Majority Report)

Item Ds House Rs Senate Rs Notes
ACF- Fire suppression equipment 6 4  1/1 Min out
ACF- Seed potato inspector 6 4  1/1 Min out
ACF- New Director of Parks and Lands 6 4  1/1 Min out
ACF- Reduce funding for FMF technical asst grants 6 4 2 Min in
ACF-Improvements in Allagash Wilderness Waterway 6 4 2 AMD $25k/year All other +60k Capital
ACF- Eliminate 24 ranger positions 6 4 2 Min in as in CP
AFA- $3.5M in position cuts TBD 6 4 2
CRJ- Closure of Downeast Correctional Facility 6 4 2 Maj out, Min change change package date of closure to June 30, 2018
CRJ- Electronic monitoring of 150 inmates 6 4 2 Min in
CRJ- Corections medical contract increase 6 4 2 In-AM $877K/year Min in
CRJ- eliminate drug treatment grant funding 6 4 2 IN-AM $550K/year
CRJ- Eliminate 4 Capitol Security screeners 6 4 2 MAJ-Out
EDU- Arts commission $192K 6 4 2 Min out
MCCS- $4.5M operational costs 6 4 2 MAJ In-AM, Min in
MCCS- Strategic Workforce initiatives $3.4M 6 4 2 MAJ-AM, MIN In-AM $1M/year
EDU- Funding to prepare for bicentennial 6 4 2 In-AM $500K/year
EDU- $10M for school consolidation 6 4 2 MAJ-Out
EDU- Replace one-time GPA funding from last biennium $19.4M 6 4 2
UMS- $11.6M operating funds and bug lab 7 4 2 Min out
UMS- Early College $1M 7 4 2
EUT- Move ConnectMe Authority to DECD 7 4 2 Maj Out
JUD- AG Research asst 7 4 2
JUD- AG Legal Sec 7 4 2
JUD- Establish 4 ADA positions 7 4 2 Maj Out Min 4 positions FY19
JUD- Indigent Legal Services 7 4 2 Maj FY18  $23M FY19$21M- includes $2.8M to cover FY17 shortfall, House R- Min baseline and just $2.8M FY17 shortfall, Senate R Min accept lang changes from JUD FY18 $19M FY19 $19M OSR in case of public defender
JUD- Judicial salaries 7  2/2 2 Maj- full 3%
LCRED- Provide HOME fund with $12M 7 4  1/1 Min transfer $2M to GF
LCRED- Board of Midwifery  6/1 3 2 Maj Amd to use $57K from PRF
SLG- Increased debt service to support $40M MGFA bonds 6 4 2 Min in
SLG- Consolidation of local services $10M 6 4 2 Maj out, Min in as CP
SLG- ConnectMe Authority staff at OIT 6 4 2 Line 224, Ref. 101 OUT
SLG- Creation of a stand-alone Department of Technology 6 4 2 MAJ out, Min In
SLG- $4.9M in OIT debt services 6 4 2 MAJ out, Min In
TAX- Limit Homestead Property Tax Exemption to those 65 y.o. or older 6 4 2 Out
TAX- Elimination of Board of Tax Appeals 6 4 2 Out
ACF- Funding for the Ag promotional fund $5M 6 4 2 Maj Out, Min in (includes Part RRRRR)
AG- Eliminate Civil Rights Teams 7   1/3 2
CRJ- County Jails Operations Fund 7 4 2 CP initiative Maj- Out
CRJ Amendment Assesment limit 7 3 2 Maj in, Min remove the assesment cap
JUD- provide $2M for gov legal expenses 7 4 2 Maj out, Min in-AM create gov’s legal defense carrying  account by $500K/year
HHS- Eliminate Community Family Planning 7 3 2 Maj out,
HHS- Eliminate state Head Start funding 7 5 2 Maj out
HHS- eliminate Maine Rx 7 5 2 Out
HHS- Transfer FHM to Medicaid seed 7 5 2
HHS- Eliminate medical coverage for 19 and 20 yo’s 7 5 2 Maj out
HHS- Change CAH reimbursement to 101% 7 5 2 Maj out
HHS- enhance estate recovery efforts 7 5 2 Out
HHS- Hospital tax rebasing 7 4  1/1 Maj out
HHS- Eliminate state support for legal non-citizens in various programs 7 4 2 Maj out
HHS- Eliminates General Assistance program 7 4 2 Maj out
HHS- Support Opioid Health Homes 7 4 2 Maj In-AM
HHS- Eliminate 192 positions 7 4 2 Maj out
HHS Amendment- $30M DHHS deappropriation 7 3 2 Maj in
HHS- Prohibit DHHS from seeking or implementing waivers to expand access to Statewide Food Supplement Program 7 4 2 Maj out
EDU- mill rate expectation of 7.20 7 4 2
EDU AMD- Additional allocation for Education Fund $97.6M Democrats 7 2 Maj in
EDU AMD- Additional allocation for Education Fund $300M+ Democrats 7 Maj in
EDU AMD- FY18 $16.7M FY19 $95M Senate Republican Report 2 Senate Rs Min of 2 in
EDU GPA funding as proposed by the Governor ($40M less than current) 4 House R’s Minority of 4
UMS PPPPP- MGFA UMS bonding 7   3/1 2 maj in-am
UMS TTTTT- Taxable borrowing authority 7 4 2 IN
Part D- Governor’s income tax changes 7 4  1/1 Maj out, House R Min $0-$42K- 5.8%, $42K-100K 6.5%, $100K-200K 7.51%, eliminate 3%
Part E- Gov’s sales tax changes 7 4  1/1 Maj out, House R Min  Increase lodging to 10%
Part F- Elimination of the Estate tax 7 4 2 Out
Part G- Restrict Homestead to 65 yoa 7 4 2 Maj out, Min Keep all eligibility, reduce Exemption to $15K 50% reimbursement to towns
Part H- Eliminate telecomms Property Tax and give to towns 7 4 2 out
Part I- Eliminate BETR 7 4 2 Maj out
Part J- Eliminate Board of Tax Appeals 7 4 2 Maj out, Min In Am to eliminate attorney only
Part K- Set Revenue Sharing at 2% 7 4 2 Maj out
Part R- Create Dept of Technology 7 4 2 Maj out
Amendment to Repeal Q2 offered by Rep. Winsor 7 4 2 Maj out
Amendment to remove inappropriately hired legal staff at DHHS 7 3  1/1 Maj in
Part EEEE- Individuals w/ drug felonies ineligible for TANF 7 4 2 Maj out
Part CCCCC- Increase income disregard for unemployment benefits to $100 and index to CPI 7 2 2 Maj in
Amendment- Establish Director of Public Lands 7 3 2 Maj in
Amendment- restores access to Sec 17 mental health supports 7 3 2 Maj in
Part YYYYY- Secondary school choice 7 4 2 Maj out
Part ZZZZZ- Education Savings Accounts 7 4 2 Maj out
Part CCCCCC- Make graduating schools pay for remedial higher education courses 7 4 2 Maj out
Part DDDDDD- Statewide teacher contract 7 4 2 Maj out
Amendment- Allow the children of state employees to be eligible for SCHIP 7 3 1 Maj in
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This afternoon the Appropriations committee convened to take a series of unanimous votes across several departments and committees of jurisdiction. Notable items include:

  • Debt service for current and future borrowing $35.6M

 

  • Rejecting a public defender office

 

  • Reject the plan to cut parents with incomes over 40% of FPL from MaineCare $33M

 

  • Reject eliminating removing hospital based doc facility fee payments $11.4M

 

Following was a presentation by Rep. Hubbell of a Democratic proposal on Part C education language.

Republicans declined to share or defend their proposal on mic.

Highlights from Rep. Hubbell:

 

Democrats Republicans
Mill rate      7.20 Mill rate      8.29
Total cost of public education

$2.2B

Total cost of public education

$2.1B

State share of the total cost of public education

$1.1B

State share of the total cost of public education

$991M

Local share of the total cost of public education

$1.047B

Local share of the total cost of public education

$1.085B

 

The Rs both declined to state that the governor’s proposal is their position but also represented that the presentation of the original budget and the change package outlined their position on education.

 

Change package

The administration released a package of changes to his proposed budget submitted to the legislature in January. It can be found in two parts, one, appropriations and allocations and two, language.

The Administration will present the changes to AFA at 10:00 AM on Friday.

Notable items include:

  • Fund county jails and Indigent Legal Services through February 2018 while requiring the administration to bring proposals for changes to the Second Regular Session of the 128th There is no provision for supplemental FY17 funding.
  • Not in the change package but due to be discussed Friday is a proposal to treat the future of the Downeast Correctional Facility to a similar process proposed for jails and legal services
  • The elimination of the Civil Rights Teams through the Office of the Attorney General
  • $2M for a legal contingency fund for cases in which the AG declines to represent the governor. Incidentally the AG’s Office filed a motion to dismiss the governor’s lawsuit to compel the AG to pay his legal expenses. The AG authorized legal expenses for this lawsuit.
  • $5M for agricultural marketing
  • $300K to recreate the Landowner Relations position in IF&W
  • Several pieces of proposed education policy changes:
    • A voluntary framework for regionalization
    • The minority report of the EDU committee to add 1 charter school each year until the existing cap expires as in Mason’s bill LD 1158 which received a divided report from EDU
    • Allow high school choice “if there is room”
    • A pilot project for a scheme to take 90% of the state share attributable to students with special needs away from local districts so parents can create their own instructional plan as proposed in Gerrish’s bill LD 1132 which received a majority ONTP report in EDU
    • Provide additional training for staff providing education to students with autism as in Langley’s bill LD 1531
    • A proposal to extend Career Technical Education to middle-school students
    • A rehashed proposal to charge the cost of any necessary remedial courses required by students at institutions of higher learning to the school districts from which they received a diploma. This liability appears to encompass the lifetime of the individual.
    • The minority report on Pouliot’s bill LD 864 to establish a statewide teacher contract
    • Measures to address truancy and provide an assessment of state assessments
    • Add the costs of running the Department of Education (DOE) to the state cost of local education, lowering the state’s expected GPA contribution
    • Change bus refurbishment procedures to allow the addition of technology like Wi-Fi
    • Change reimbursement to higher education institutions for Early College to the average of the lowest cost credits available at the institution. The effect is that Community College credits would be 100% covered while University credits will not

The work remaining

The Appropriations committee has spent the last months caucusing on budget items, reviewing committee report backs, voting in or out unanimous or nearly unanimous items as well as addressing standalone bills mostly related to the Maine Public Employees Retirement System.

Several attempts have been made to engage Republicans both on the committee and in leadership in a meaningful dialogue regarding the 3% surtax and their proposals to fund education. Those discussions continue.

Speaker Gideon addresses this in the Press Herald today.

Maine House speaker: Republicans must do their part to fully fund schools

 

Budget

AFA Ds have presented committee amendments to incorporate the education and property tax relief aspects of the Opportunity Agenda. There was no meaningful discussion from Rs on the committee.

Following the May 1 revenue forecast the entire committee agrees on what revenue is available in the next biennium. $7.38B, including the 3% surtax approved by voters.

Outstanding items include:

  • Education funding, both General Purpose Aid (GPA) to education and support for higher education,
  • All Health and Human Services (HHS) cuts proposed by the governor,
  • The majority of the position eliminations proposed by the governor,
  • Controversial items in the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry committee,
  • Funding for county jails,
  • The closure of Downeast Correctional Facility,
  • The fate and funding of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services
  • Judicial salaries,
  • The creation and funding of a cabinet level Department of Information Technology,
  • The governor’s tax proposals,
  • General Assistance,
  • Support for legally present new Mainers that are prohibited by law from working,
  • Marijuana implementation, and
  • Debt service

Major items that have been resolved include:

  • Rejecting the governor’s plan to freeze retiree cost of living adjustments (COLA) for no reason
  • Rejecting the governor’s $40M raid on the General Fund to cover 100% of the costs of the State Police
  • Accepted setting the anticipated attrition rate for the upcoming biennium at 5%
  • Rejected the proposal to move the Driver Education and Evaluation Program (DEEP) to the Secretary of State’s office
  • Funding for teacher retirement $29M
  • Doubling the cap on slots for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities served under the Sec. 29 waiver for $11.6M

 

AFA Update: May 5, 2017 revenue forecast and unvoted initiatives

Monday’s revenue forecast sets the stage for budget negotiations. A relatively minor downward adjustment of $5.1M over this fiscal year and the next two still provides $7.4B in revenue.

Full Revenue forecast

Members received sheets containing all of the remaining unvoted items. These documents will guide negotiations and voting through the rest of the budget process.

ACF 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

AFA ONLY 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

CJPS 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

EDU 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

IFS 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

IFW 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

JUD 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

LCRED 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

MAR 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-1

SLG 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

TAX 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

TRA 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

VLA 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

ENR 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

EUT 128th Biennial Budget Unvoted Initiatives as of 04-30-17

Report Back HHS-Initiatives w/ HHS votes (Green)-Version #2

Report Back HHS-DHHS Mgmt w/ HHS votes (Yellow)

Report Back HHS-BEH to HUM w/ HHS votes (Gold)

Report Back HHS-Language w/ HHS votes (Purple)

AFA Update: Week of March 6-10- ENR, IFS, EUT, Tax, Retirement, Judiciary and ACF

Appropriations

Public hearings on the governor’s proposed budget wrapped up this week.

Environment and Natural Resources

Insurance and Financial Services

Energy, Utilities and Technology (US Broadband info)

Taxation

State Retirement– The most discussed and well attended hearing. The administration made it clear that the proposal to suspend cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for retirees is intended to make additional payments on the unfunded actuarial liability (UAL) that are currently unnecessary.

Judiciary

Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

Members of the committee expressed great skepticism at the changes proposed by the governor’s budget in the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “Not going to fly” was one comment.

Next Week

AFA holds public hearings on a handful of bills related to the retirement system. At the end of the week Rep. Farrin’s bill to eliminate benefits for Legislators will be heard.

Taxation

In addition to its regular workload Tax started discussions about the governor’s proposed budget.

Maine Revenue Services (MRS) and the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) delivered an array of materials:

OFPR tax documents

OPM “impact” of question 2

OPM staff estimate that in the first year of the new policy-

  • Private sector employment will be negatively impacted by 2,400-4,300
  • Real disposable incomes will be negatively impacted by $400- $600 million
  • Maine’s population will decline by 800- 1,400
  • GDP will be negatively impacted by $40-$160 million

These estimates are based on an economic forecasting model. Models are only as good as the data provided to them. In this case every result is based on how many people OPM assumes will leave the state. They have not yet provided an explanation of the basis for those beliefs. Others presented research refuting “tax flight”.

MRS analysis of 3% surcharge– includes a distributional analysis

MRS provided answers to questions posed at the public hearing.

History of tax changes 2011-today

MRS Background materials for governor’s tax proposals– includes distributional analyses

MRS revenue estimates

MRS tax plan vs 3%

Next week

Tax is scheduled to report back to AFA on April 3. Next week is dedicated to work sessions on the proposed budget.

 

AFA Update: Week of Feb. 27- March 3- State and Local Government, Veterans and Legal Affairs, Labor ,IF&W, and Education

Appropriations

A recurring theme this week was the question of what is an appropriate initiative for budgets and what is a policy choice that is better suited to a standalone bill submitted to the policy committee. Outlining components that will go into determining General Purpose Aid to Local Education (GPA) by school district were also made available.

Monday

Appropriations was joined by the State and Local Government committee for public hearings on their portions of the governor’s proposed budget.

Items of note:

  • Moving analytical staff, including the State Economist, from the Office of Policy and Management to the Office of the Commissioner
  • Increased debt service for the Maine Governmental Facilities Authority (MGFA) to support renovations, particularly on the East (AMHI) campus and $6M to further work on the state-owned Dolby landfill in East Millinocket
  • Further MGFA debt authorization to support $100M in construction and maintenance at the University of Maine System (UMS)
  • $10M from unappropriated surplus for the Fund for Efficient Delivery of Local and Regional Services
  • Creation of the Department of Technology Services (DTS) (from the existing Office of Information Technology (OIT)
  • $21M in borrowing for IT infrastructure
  • Allow state facilities to accept contributions for upkeep, maintenance and repair

Tuesday

Joined in the afternoon by the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, AFA heard testimony on the following issues among others:

  • Changes proposed by the Ethics Commission to the distribution schedule of funds to the Maine Clean Elections (MCEA) program and a request for $1.7M in additional funding, the testimony also includes scenarios for different situations and a history of transfers to and from MCEA. Members of the public voiced strong opposition to the governor’s proposed funding levels for MCEA
  • The governor’s proposal to essentially deregulate games of chance for charitable organizations, relying instead on local enforcement
  • The governor’s proposal to implement Keno as a game of chance. Presenting the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations (BABLO) Greg Mineo faced skepticism from the committee regarding the appropriateness of this initiative for a budget

Wednesday

The Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development (LCRED) committee spent the entire day with Appropriations.

Testimony was offered on the Workers Compensation Commission, the Department of Labor (DOL), Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA), Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), Professional and Financial Regulation (PFR) and many other smaller agencies.

  • Support was expressed for the full appropriate amount of the Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) to the Housing Opportunities for Maine (HOME) fund in the MSHA
  • The Governor’s plan to eliminate the entire $180K appropriation for the Applied Technology Development Centers (ATDC). This successful program supports:
    • Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED) – MCED runs an intensive 15-week training program, that has assisted 140+ small businesses. Removal of state funds would also affect MCED’s ability to draw down additional federal funds.
    • Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center (MAIC) – MAIC sponsors and facilitates innovative research and development projects involving food, pharmaceuticals, and other products from sustainable aquatic systems.
    • Target Technology Center at UMaine – Home of the UpStart Incubator, which provides coaching services and support to entrepreneurs in order to build competitive, market-oriented companies.
  • An increase from $25 to $100 per week in the amount an individual receiving unemployment compensation can retain of other earnings without jeopardizing their UI benefits

 

Thursday

In a brief public hearing a member of the Inland Fisheries & Wildlife committee shared Commissioner Woodcock’s testimony.

Opposition was voiced by committee members and the public to the elimination of Game Warden and science positions, the elimination of printed rule and law books, and the reduction of miles driven by Game Wardens. The Commissioner attempted to explain the reductions as necessary to maintain the same dollar funding as in the last biennium. No compelling reason was offered for this.

Friday

Rescheduled due to a storm EDU joined AFA for a hearing on the K-12 proposals offered by the governor. After two and half hours of testimony from the Acting Commissioner, scratching the surface of the more than 60 changes to the school funding formula proposed by the governor, the committees opted to take testimony from the more than 70 members of the public present to oppose the governor’s plans.

According to data from the Maine Department of Education, calculations show that almost 65% of Maine students live in districts that will see a decline in education funding from the state if the governor’s budget proposal is approved.

Concerns were raised about the looming March 30 deadline for school boards to propose budgets. The governor’s plan to eliminate state support for local school administration was panned. The budget as proposed will result in increased costs to towns of 5% and 10%.

Commissioner’s testimony

Part C breakout

GPA component spreadsheet

MEA Adjusted State Share by district

Supplemental budget

The Supplemental budget, LD 302 was finally enacted and sent to the governor on Thursday. The bill was replaced with the committee amendment.

Next Week

Monday morning public hearings continue with the Environment and Natural Resources committee.