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September 30, 2010 | last updated December 1, 2011 8:49 am

Report: ME spending $1B too much

A report from two Maine think tanks says Maine could save more than $1 billion a year if it brought state spending in line with national averages.

The report, "Reinventing Maine Government," performed by Envision Maine and commissioned by GrowSmart Maine, found that Maine's state and local government costs are about 13% higher than the national average and 16% higher than other rural states, making Maine the sixth-highest spending state in the nation for government. The state's welfare and Medicaid payments are 69% more than the national average, or $361 million a year, and legislative expenditures are 132% higher than the national average, or $8 million a year. The report found that if Maine spending were brought to national averages in welfare, K-12 education and solid waste management, the state would save more than $500 million every year.

Among the report's recommendations was shrinking the size of the Legislature, eliminating the state's unfunded liabilities and consolidating the existing 16 counties into eight. Read the entire report.

Envision Maine was created in the fall of 2009 by former GrowSmart President Alan Caron, and the report is its first.

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