August 24, 2019
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Governor’s budget task force asked to find $25 million in cuts

AUGUSTA, Maine — The governor’s office announced Thursday the final seven members of a special commission tasked with finding at least $25 million in cuts to t he $6.1 billion two-year budget that passed in June.

Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett will chair the Streamline and Prioritize Core Government Services Task Force and will be joined by four legislators who were named on Wednesday: Sen. Richard Rosen, R-Bucksport; Sen. Dawn Hill, D-York; Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake; and Rep. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade.

All are members of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.

The other members named on Thursday were: Joe Bruno, former GOP party chairman; Phil Harriman, a former legislator and business consultant; David Flanagan, former CEO of Central Maine Power; George Kerr, a former Democratic lawmaker from Old Orchard Beach; Sue Charron, director of social services for the city of Lewiston; David Winslow of the Maine Hospital Association; and Ryan Low, former finance commissioner under Gov. John Baldacci and current administrator at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Millett said the commission will begin its work in August to find $25 million in savings in order to balance the state’s budget but he hopes there are more savings to be found.

The recommendations of the commission likely will be folded into a budget bill when the Legislature convenes in January, the finance chief said.

However, if the Legislature fails to pass a bill, the governor could use curtailment to make the cuts. The Legislature could undo the governor’s curtailment, but only a simple majority would be needed to affirm the governor’s action. With Republican majorities in the House and Senate, that would seem probable.

Some Democrats have worried that the cuts will target social services such as General Assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and MaineCare.

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