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For Immediate Release

Date: 01/04/13

DAFS Commissioner Briefs Budget Committee on Curtailment Order and Shortfall

House Republicans optimistic, emphasize need to find structural savings and prevent tax hikes

AUGUSTA - Commissioner Sawin Millett of the Department of Financial and Administrative Services (DAFS) briefed the Legislature's Appropriations Committee today and took questions on the recent curtailment order that cuts state spending by $35.5 million through the remainder of fiscal year 2013.

Rep. Kathy Chase (R-Wells), Republican Lead on the Appropriations Committee, was hopeful that the Committee will achieve a positive solution. "We need to work together to solve the budget shortfall, and I know that our committee is capable of doing just that," she said.

Mike Allen of Maine Revenue Services said recently that Mainers would pay an extra $355 million in federal payroll taxes after Congress allowed payroll tax cuts to expire. The two percent increase in tax liability for most Americans will cost the average taxpayer about $1,000 per year.

"With recent federal tax hikes, now is the last time to be raising taxes on working Mainers," said Rep. Tyler Clark (R-Easton) of the Appropriations Committee. "And it's clear that we need to reduce spending at DHHS in a structural, long-term manner."

Commissioner Millett was able to give the Committee some good news, noting that an Augusta courthouse construction project came in $233,000 under budget, and the Department of Corrections had implemented scheduling reforms that have saved the state money in overtime expenditures.

"It was good to hear that the LePage Administration's sound management has resulted in some unexpected savings, which will make our job easier going into the upcoming session," said Rep. Tom Winsor (R-Norway) of the Appropriations Committee.

The Appropriations Committee is now tasked with solving a $135 million shortfall for the remainder of fiscal year 2013.

"I'm confident that the Appropriations Committee will be able to work together and solve Maine's fiscal problems without relying on tax increases," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport).

The Legislature will reconvene on Tuesday, January 8.

David Sorensen, Communications Director
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793