Budget Committee unanimously approves funds for nursing homes, opioid epidemic, mental health

Posted: June 11, 2018 | Appropriations and Financial Affairs, Senator Breen
 AUGUSTA — On Monday, the Legislature’s Appropriation and Financial Affairs Committee unanimously approved an essential spending package to provide critical funding for nursing homes, opioid initiatives and mental health care. The bipartisan spending package – LD 925, “An Act Making Certain Appropriations and Allocations and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government” – combines several bills that went unresolved when the Legislature adjourned prematurely in May.
“Today we passed a reasonable spending package that is both fiscally responsible and meets the real needs of Maine people. It honors commitments made in last year’s budget negotiations, keeps the doors on our nursing homes open and increases access to behavioral and mental health care,” said Sen. Cathy Breen, of Falmouth. “Now that the budget committee has taken this bipartisan step forward, I am optimistic that we can approve bond proposals and finish the remaining work when the Legislature reconvenes for a special session in the coming weeks.”
Late last month, the committee considered and passed a narrow $26.4 million spending package to fund county jails and maintain modest pay raises for direct care workers to avoid a crisis. The full Legislature must now pass these spending bills before the end of the fiscal year on July 1.
Since the Legislature abruptly adjourned earlier this year, a broad coalition of community leaders, businesses and advocacy groups have called on the Legislature to return to Augusta and fund these priorities. In the meantime, Democrats rejected efforts to slow or roll-back the minimum wage, passed by the voters in 2016.
Other unfinished work that remains before the Legislature includes administrative funding for Medicaid expansion, tax conformity, school funding, infrastructure investments, and a number of other bond proposals.
Lawmakers will consider these spending packages and remaining legislation should the Legislature reconvene for a special session. The Legislature can only return for a special session if a majority of lawmakers in each caucus agree to come back to Augusta. Legislative leaders will begin polling their members this week.