AUGUSTA, Maine — Lawmakers who are getting complaints from their jobless constituents want to know why some Maine Labor Department positions to handle unemployment claims are not being filled.
The questions were posed Tuesday as Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman appeared before the Appropriations Committee, which is in the second day of hearings to address a $140 million budget shortfall.
Some lawmakers say they’ve been flooded with calls from constituents who’ve lost their jobs and can’t get through to the Labor Department. Legislators asked why the state’s not filling more federally funded labor positions to deal with the wave of calls.
Gov. John Baldacci’s office acknowledges that some federally funded Labor Department positions are frozen due to the governor’s moneysaving curtailment order. But officials add that the administration has added 24 more people to take unemployment claims since the fall.