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Maine Finance Chief Proposes Steps To Close $528M Budget Gap

Maine Public

With state revenues projected to be $528 million less than when the current budget was adopted, Finance Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa is proposing a series of steps to close that budget gap, without layoffs or cuts to school funding.Nearly half of the money to close the gap would come from federal sources, including the CARES Act and a change in the Medicaid matching rate.

"We kept the infrastructure of state government solid," Figueroa says, "because people are using our services now more than ever."

Figueroa says the plan would use $100 million in unspent funds from the last budget. Most of the remaining funds would come from curtailments of varying amounts across state government.

"We are making these curtailments available from tightening our belts, contracts we are not able to do, some shifting to different funding sources," Figueroa says.

The proposal would also rely on $70 million from increased sales of liquor over what is needed to pay for a bond that allowed the state to pay off its debt to hospitals under Gov. Paul LePage's administration.

Figueroa cautions the plan is based on the current projected loss of state revenues and more cuts may be needed if the economy worsens.

Gov. Janet Mills is reviewing the proposal and would need to give final approval.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.