Meeting on DHHS budget abruptly canceled due to lack of information

Posted Jan. 05, 2012, at 6:14 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Legislature’s budget writing committee abruptly canceled a Friday meeting on proposed cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services. Members of the Appropriations Committee said they needed more information from the department before continuing deliberations on the proposed cuts.

Last month, Gov. Paul LePage released a supplemental budget for DHHS, which reduced its state funding by $220 million over the next year and a half. There has been much opposition to the cuts, especially those affecting facilities for the elderly and those with disabilities.

Lawmakers have been frustrated by a lack of clear information from the department about the size of the gap between its spending and its allocation of state funds. Questions also remain about the causes of the shortfall.

Because of this, a work session scheduled for Friday was called off late Thursday.

Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said it was more important to have accurate information than to finish a supplemental budget quickly.

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