I WANT TO MAKE IT PERFECTLY CLEAR, I SUPPORT THE GOVERNOR AND HIS LEADERSHIP ON MAKING THE STRUCTURAL CHANGES NEEDED TO FIX THE SYSTEM FOR THE LONG HAUL. I WILL NOT SUPPORT THE CURRENT PROPOSAL OUT OF APPROPRIATIONS WITHOUT CHANGES…Augusta
– Maine People Before Politics today outlined their opposition to more than $20 million in one-time funding initiatives and tax increases in the proposed DHHS supplemental budget.
“Our opposition is to specific provisions of this compromise that simply do not put the DHHS budget on sound financial footing for the future. Leaving structural problems in the DHHS budget will only cause us to return to this very contentious issue year after year. Maine can do better than that,” said Jason Savage, executive director of Maine People Before Politics.
Included in the budget are the following provisions that MPBP is opposing:
- Increase in the Dirigo tax: The budget package
raises $4.8 million in taxes through the Dirigo tax. Supporters of this
provision argue that it is simply a one-year freeze on the planned reduction in
the tax, but MPBP advocated strongly for last year’s health insurance reform
bill, LD 1333, now PL 90 on the premise that the assessment on health insurance
policies was counterbalanced by the reduction in the Dirigo tax. Put simply,
increasing the Dirigo tax turns what was sold to the people of Maine as a net tax decrease into a net tax increase.
- 1% across the board cuts: The budget package
includes a provision for 1% across the board deappropriation. MPBP has long
advocated against this budgeting method. Elected officials should identify
savings, not simply demand and impose them. This does nothing to prevent future
budget shortfalls or protect other core government services. Elected officials
are elected to identify priorities and take responsibility, not make thoughtless
- PNMI Cost of Care Initiative: MPBP supports the
work of the Appropriations committee in preserving care for recipients of PNMI
services, but opposes the booking of $11 million in savings in this budget. DHHS
has pegged these savings at $7 million. MPBP believes that improperly booking
these savings will result in another funding problem for the PNMI program in the
- Statewide Radio Network Delay: The budget package
proposes savings of $1.7 million in delaying payments for the statewide radio
network project. MPBP opposes this item because it is not a structural reform
and cannot be sustained as part of a long term budget solution for
- Sweep DPFR Accounts for Licensing & Fees: $3.5
million is slated to be swept from DPFR accounts that hold funds paid for
licenses and insurance. MPBP opposes this sweep on the basis that these fees
were not paid to support welfare programs, and if this $3.5 million in revenue
is not needed for support of those licensed and insured, these fees should not
have been charged or they should be returned to those who paid
- FAME, Attorney General & Legislative Budget Use Of One Time
Funds: The budget package proposes to take $2 million from the
FAME Loan Reserve Fund, $363,000 from Attorney General Drug
Settlements and $1.4 million from FY11 Legislature budget . These are
not long term funding solutions for DHHS. MPBP does support significant
reductions in the legislative budget, where viable, but believes this one-time
approach is not a sustainable revenue source for DHHS.
MPBP stands strongly opposed to these provisions. It is our hope that the budget can move forward free of the liabilities outlined above. It is time to work toward a solution that protects services for the most vulnerable and demonstrates to the people of Maine that Augusta is serious about fixing this problem with long-term solutions, not stop-gap measures.