May 25, 2019
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Mills taps AG’s office chief to lead Maine’s budget department

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Gov.-elect Janet Mills speaks to reporters Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Portland, Maine.

Gov.-elect Janet Mills on Monday named Kirsten Figueroa as her nominee for commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, the state agency that handles budgeting and contracts.

Figueroa has worked under Mills, the outgoing Democratic attorney general, since 2015 as chief of the Administrative and Financial Services Division. She is Mills’ second Cabinet nomination, after Jeanne Lambrew, a veteran of former President Barack Obama’s administration whom Mills announced Friday as her nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

Figueroa of Gardiner previously served as deputy commissioner of finance for DHHS under former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, chief financial officer of Avesta Housing, and worked as CFO of Dirigo Health, the Baldacci health care initiative that ended after 10 years in 2013.

In a statement, Mills praised Figueroa’s “considerable talent and expertise” and said she will help “prepare a budget that will maintain fiscal stability, reduce the burden of property taxes, increase revenue sharing, and invest in our future.”

Figueroa said in a statement that she looks forward to “repairing the morale, reputation and dignity of the state’s workforce,” as well as working with Mills to craft a budget that “maintains appropriate financial discipline and adequately invests in the future of Maine.”

She will play a key role in the new administration as Mills works quickly to draft a biennial budget soon after she is sworn in as governor Jan. 2 to replace Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who has left behind a budget blueprint for Mills and threatened to run against her in 2022 if she is not running the state in a way he sees fit.

Both Figueroa and Mills have suggested the state’s spending needs to shift directions. In October, the attorney general’s office — with Figueroa running point while Mills campaigned — sued the LePage administration over the governor’s move to withhold $4.9 million as of June in reimbursements for legal services provided to state agencies.

Lambrew, Figueroa and Mills’ other Cabinet nominees will be interviewed by legislative committees before going to a confirmation vote in the Maine Senate.

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