|July 17, 2017
State Budget Vote Report
A little after 1:00 a.m. on July 4th, the Maine Legislature passed and the Governor signed a budget agreement that put State government back to work on July 5th. Sighs of relief could be heard in most, but not all, parts of the State.
The final vote was 35-0 in the Senate and 147-2 in the House. There will be no lodging tax increase in exchange for a two-year moratorium on behavioral health reimbursement rate cuts (familiar to many as the “Burns & Associates Rate Study cuts”) and $575,000 per year in increased funding for Head Start, the latter two points to be funded by TANF surplus. The budget entirely repeals the 3% surcharge on high-income earners passed by referendum in November and offers a mixture of one time and on-going spending for education totaling around $162 million. Most concerning disappointing to public health advocates is a $10 million (0ver the biennium) cut in the Fund for a Healthy Maine, a program funded by tobacco settlement money that has been earmarked for tobacco and obesity prevention. The compromise uses the Fund to pay for wage increases for direct care workers who care for the elderly. This program is an aspect of MaineCare, Maine's version of Medicaid, and has historically been funded, like other parts of Medicaid, by state and federal taxes.
The budget, as enacted, can be found here. (It's a very large document.)
The amendment which constitutes the compromise agreement, which is significantly shorter (euphemistically speaking) than the budget itself, is here.
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