AUGUSTA, Maine – The LePage administration is laying out programs and positions that could be cut to save $35 million in the state budget.
Richard Rosen, the director of the Office of Policy and Management, presented the proposal to the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
The administration’s proposal includes eliminating about 97 governmental positions and cutting about $9.5 million from administrative funding for schools as well as about $500,000 from Head Start programs.
The cuts are required to ensure that the state finishes the fiscal year with a balanced budget.
Rosen says the administration found ways to eliminate duplication and identify underutilized commissions or programs.
Education advocates criticized the proposal, saying Maine schools can’t handle further cuts to education funding. Connie Brown, Executive Director of the Maine School Board Association, says it’s predictable but regrettable that schools are once again on the chopping block.
“We’ve just now gotten back to to the pre-curtailment levels that we were at before this biennial budget was passed. So it’s going to be very difficult fir schools to suffer another reduction,” Brown said Wednesday.
LePage spokesperson Adrienne Bennett says the governor is not responsible for these cuts. She says this is an example of the legislature passing the buck and asking LePage and his staff to do their dirty work.
“You’ve got to remember that Governor LePage, he presented a balanced budget back at the beginning of the legislative session. That was rejected by lawmakers. So they needed to come up with a balanced budget. They put that responsibility back on the executive branch. And now they’re trying to blame the governor,” Bennett said.