Gov. Paul LePage wants to find an additional $100 million in state budget savings, in part because of the federal deficit-reduction plan approved this week by Congress, a spokeswoman for the governor said Friday.

A bipartisan task force that’s analyzing state departments and agencies with the aim of prioritizing services, consolidating functions and eliminating duplication and inefficiencies is responsible, by law, for finding at least $25 million in savings.

Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett, who is chairman of the bipartisan panel, has said that the level of needed savings is closer to $35 million.

But LePage would to see more ambitious savings, and has set a goal of $100 million, Adrienne Bennett, his press secretary, said Friday.

One of the new areas of concern is an estimated $30 million cut in the federal heating assistance program for Maine for the coming year, Bennett said.


“It’s a priority of his to find additional funding to see that some of our most vulnerable residents aren’t put in the position of choosing between their meals or their heating oil,” she said. “It’s going to be a tough one, so we need to brace for some additional cuts.”

State Rep. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade, a member of the task force and the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, said he agrees with the governor’s decision to aim high and anticipate a need to find additional spending cuts.

“It’s always good to set a higher goal than what you’re tasked with,” he said. “I think it’s a worthwhile exercise and should be an ongoing exercise, to prioritize activities that state government is involved with.”

Sen. Dawn Hill, D-York, also a member of the task force and the Appropriations Committee, said she will begin work with an open mind, but questions whether the needed cuts can be found without looking at potentially increasing revenue.

“It’s important to find efficiencies and streamlining where we can, but I’m not sure that that alone, in the end … will be enough,” she said. “I think we will need to consider some alternative or additional revenue caps.”

In his weekend radio address, the governor speaks of the need for more savings. He says the work of the task force to streamline government is a good start.


The task force will make its recommendations in December.

“For too long, Mainers have footed the bill for duplicated government programs and purchasing, questionable travel reimbursements and departments that have little to show for the millions in tax dollars they receive. It’s time to identify the waste and abuse of your tax dollars,” LePage says.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler contributed to this report.


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