Education & DHHS Would Be Hardest Hit By LePage Curtailment Order
The Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services account for two of the largest expenditures in the state budget.Under the governor’s proposal to balance the budget, substance abuse services will lose around $360,000. According to DHHS documents, the loss of funding will result in a reduction in availability of services for people and potentially longer waits to access services in some communities. The amount of money the state gives to foster parents will also go down. Parents are reimbursed a negotiated daily adoption subsidy rate at the time of the adoption based on the needs of the family. Currently the negotiated rates range from a low of $1.71 per day to the maximum $26.25. The proposal will reduce rates by 50% for the 4th quarter resulting, for example, a family currently receiving $1.71 per day will be reduced to $0.86 per day. Some lawmakers were concerned that would remove the motivation for potential foster parents to adopt children in need. “This will have an affect on those families. these families have seen rate cuts in the past. this is a time limited re cut ad were hoping it will not ave a long term affect,” Bob Blanchard, a representative of DHHS, told the committee. Education commissioner Steve Bowen says more than $12 million could be cut from his department’s budget. Bowen says school districts were told a few weeks ago what their individual curtailment amounts would be. That advanced warning may not soften the blow. School budgets were passed last spring with a presumption there was going to be a certain amount of state aid coming. “They were given that information last spring almost a year ago,” Bowen said. “Now we’re in the unfortunate position of coming to them midway through the existing school year and saying we’re going to have to adjust the amount of money you’re going to get from the state for this current school year we’re in.”Which could leave administrators with some tough choices. “I think a lot of districts are looking at reserve funds,” Bowen said. “They may also look at other things they budgeted. Maybe they were going to do building projects, maybe they were going to do technology upgrades, maybe they’re going to do renovations to the building. Those kinds of things can be postponed.”Friday afternoon Governor LePage is expected to unveil his supplemental budget as well as the budget for the next two years, which faces a projected shortfall of $130 million. Lawmakers also need to find tens of millions of dollars more to cover cost overruns for social services.