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Report Reflects Increased State Spending in ‘Top 40’ Programs 

(AP) A conservative think tank says state spending on the welfare program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families has increased 72 percent in the past decade. The Maine Heritage Policy Center released a report Thursday highlighting Maine government’s 40 fastest-growing general fund programs. It says that of those 40 programs, 25 are in the Departments of Health and Human Services, or Department of Corrections. The report looks at spending between the FY 2002-2003 budget cycle and the FY 2010-2011 two-year budget. It says spending for the 40 fastest-growing programs increased by 35 percent. The report is likely to get the attention of Gov.-elect Paul LePage’s new administration. A LePage transition co-chair is Tarren Bragdon, who’s been chief executive officer of policy center.Democratic leader Emily Cain released a statement in reference to the report. “We hope and expect that the Governor-Elect Paul LePage and his transition team are doing a thoughtful and careful analysis of our state’s spending during this transition period,” said Rep. Cain. “Numbers do not tell the whole story and the danger of a ‘top 40’ list is that it doesn’t answer the question of why certain programs are increasing, it only creates a target list. Democrats would hope that any such list created by an outside interest group with close ties to the administration would not become the guide for policy in isolation.”  Rep. Cain served as the House chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee in the 124th Legislature.