News Column

Maine Gov. LePage Orders $35.5 Million in Spending Cuts

Dec. 27, 2012

Steve Mistler

After several weeks of anticipation, Gov. Paul LePage will release the details of a $35.5 million reduction in state spending Thursday afternoon.

The curtailment order, signed by LePage on Thursday, is designed to balance the state's two-year budget amid downward projections of revenues that were forecast in late November.

In early December, Gov. Paul LePage announced that he would recommend the temporary spending cuts, but he didn't say when.

Adrienne Bennett, LePage's spokeswoman, said details of the spending cuts would be released in the governor's executive order. However, Education Commissioner Steve Bowen indicated in a press release that the curtailment would result in a $12.58 million reduction to General Purpose Aid to local school districts.

The impacts on each school district can be viewed here.

Other education impacts include:

* 5 percent reduction for communities that receive the minimal education adjustment.

* 1 percent reduction for communities that receive minimum state allocation.

* 2 percent reduction in for communities that receive economically disadvantaged adjustment.

The DOE indicated that the state subsidy checks will be not be immediately reduced.

The state constitution gives the governor authority to make temporary across-the-board spending reductions to bring the state budget into balance. The cuts must be relatively equitable among state agencies, which means the order could not target one department to bridge the revenue gap.

Details of the curtailment order will be released to the media around 2 p.m., according to Bennett. Legislative leadership will have a chance to review the order before then.

The governor closed state offices today, but his staff was putting the finishing touches on the curtailment order Thurday morning.

In response to the order, Democratic leadership said they would convene the Legislature's budget-writing committee ahead of schedule. The Legislature doesn't convene until Jan. 7 when it swears in the state's constitutional officers.

The committee will meet Jan. 4 to review the governor's curtailment order.

"We are carefully reviewing the governor's spending cuts," said House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, said in a statement. "We need to get to work early to ensure our budget is balanced in a fair and reasonable way."

Democratic leaders indicated that the spending cuts could be made permanent in a future budget. They said LePage's reductions will be reviewed along with a supplemental budget designed to bridge a more significant budget gap in the current two-year budget that ends June 30. That budget will also be proposed by the governor, but reviewed by the Legislature.

LePage is also expected to propose the state's next two-year budget on Jan. 11.

Source: (c)2012 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine) Distributed by MCT Information Services