BANGOR, Maine — City and school officials expressed concerns to the city’s legislative delegation Monday night about state funding cuts they are facing.
The Legislature’s proposed cuts to MaineCare, a redistribution of funding from the Fund for A Healthy Maine to the state’s General Fund, legislative proposals on civic finance and taxation, a proposal to close the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, gambling regulation and school funding all were discussed.
“We are at that point. We are at the cliff,” said Betsy Webb, Bangor’s superintendent of schools, regarding the shortfall in federal and state funding.
The workshop meeting was attended by city councilors, Bangor school and health officials and members of the Legislature from Bangor.
Many of the same legislators — Rep. Doug Damon, R-Bangor, Rep. Adam Goode, D-Bangor, and Sen. Nichi Farnham, R-Bangor — met with Webb at a forum last week to discuss potential ways to help Maine schools seek and receive federal reimbursement for the costs of offering federally mandated special education programs and services for student Medicaid recipients.
Rep. Jim Parker, R-Bangor, also attended the session along with Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, the House minority leader.
Shawn Yardley, Bangor’s Health and Community Services director, spoke specifically about MaineCare, the Fund for a Healthy Maine and Dorothea Dix.
“MaineCare cuts will increase General Assistance claims and demands on medical and emergency services, as well as costs, for Bangor,” Yardley said.
He went on to say he expects Bangor would need to hire at least one additional General Assistance person “just to manage the new load, plus the cost of prescriptions that would be a shared expense with the state.”
As for shifting 60 percent of the Fund for a Healthy Maine to the state’s General Fund, Yardley said it would mean that 88 percent of money Bangor received from the Fund for a Healthy Maine would be lost.
The politicians pledged their support and continuing cooperation with municipal officials to safeguard essential services and programs.
“It’s good feedback for us. It gives us good guidance,” Damon said of Monday evening’s roundtable. “I’ve attended some of these sessions as a private citizen before, but it’s helpful for me now because it helps to know what the city wants and what the management of the city wants so I can mesh that with my own ideas and take that down to Augusta and help put a plan in effect that’s good for Bangor.”