AUGUSTA — Maine taxpayers are going to the Web to suggest how the state can save millions of dollars to balance the budget, and while changes in welfare and other social services are the most popular, higher taxes and fees also make the list.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 350 recommendations were emailed to the Ideas and Suggestions Forum on Gov. Paul LePage’s website. They included installing more efficient light bulbs in street lamps, eliminating advertising for the state lottery and cracking down on Medicaid cheats.

Many people also expressed their support for the ideas by voting for them, making a suggestion to require drug tests of welfare recipients an apparent favorite in the very unscientific “poll,” with hundreds of votes.

Administration officials are busy grouping the ideas by subject areas, then running them by state agencies with expertise on the topics to see if the ideas are viable and can save the state money, state Budget Officer Donna Lopatosky said.

The suggestions then are forwarded to a task force that is searching for at least $25 million in savings to balance the already-approved budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2012. The task force must report its recommendations to the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee by Dec. 15 so lawmakers can consider them during next year’s session.

“I think it’s a real tool for the public to use,” said Adrienne Bennett, the governor’s spokeswoman. “Is there a vetting process? Yes. Some of the ideas do need to be checked out by the various departments to see if legislative action is needed.”

A number of people writing support work-for-welfare programs, and one calls for a way for residents and businesses to report alleged violations of welfare programs. Other proposals call for limiting the time a person can file disability claims, requiring one-year Maine residency to qualify for MaineCare, and more auditing of outside contracted services, particularly among the social services.

Photo identification should be required for a person to receive food stamps, and more restrictions should be placed on what kinds of food they can buy, other suggestions say.

“There is rampant abuse in this area,” said the contributor, who added that food stamps are regularly sold for cash or used to purchase gift cards, which are then used to purchase alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets.

Rep. John Martin, who serves on the task force, said the process of collecting ideas from the public is worthwhile, but doesn’t yield much of substance.

“It’s the off-the-cuff, gut reaction people have to human services programs that frankly we’ve been through before,” said Martin, D-Eagle Lake.

Some of the ideas, for example drug testing for welfare, have run into problems in the courts in other states, he added.

In other cases, ideas sent in by the Web have been tried but failed. An example, he said, was reducing the size of the Legislature, a proposal that fell short in legislative votes.

Other suggestions Thursday included:

* “Be like New Hampshire” and eliminate the sales and personal income tax. The lost revenue could be made up through corporate and business taxes, and increased property taxes.

* Raise the 5 percent sales tax to 6 percent.

* Legalize marijuana and tax its sale.

* For highway revenues, add tolls to Interstate 295, increase some Maine Turnpike tolls, and add new toll barriers.

The state also could save money by saving the old bridge across the Penobscot River between Prospect and Verona Island and using it for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. “Practical, ecologically sound and aesthetically pleasing, money-saving and a sure-fire tourist attraction. Win, win for all of us. Save the bridge. Save money,” the proponent says.

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