Budget hearings 

State lawmakers will be holding public hearings all month to get input on the governor’s budget plan…On Monday, that process got underway with a hearing in Augusta.There are a lot of parts when it comes to the $6,100,000,000 budget lawmakers are tackling.One of those parts is the stimulus package from Washington D.C.Members of the appropriations committee expect the feds to kick in close to a billion dollars.Meanwhile, those who are working on the 2-year state budget have to cut $200,000,000 on top of another $840,000,000.This is the first time since 1974 that lawmakers have had a smaller budget going forward.Committee chair Senator Bill Diamond says while the stimulus package from Washington is a plus, there are some challenges that come with it. “The biggest problem for us will be how do we structure that one time money. We’ve never had to do that before and it’s going to be a huge responsibility.”As it stands right now Maine could receive more than $400,000,000 to help the Medicaid program, $260,000,000 to help state and local government. $200,000,000 is slated for roads and bridges, and $100,000,000 will go to special education.Committee chair Emily Cain says an account for additional money has been established. She says that money would likely go to health care, including money the state owes hospitals.Economists are predicting the stimulus package could save 15,000 jobs here in Maine.