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April 15, 2011

Lawmakers OK second emergency budget

State lawmakers yesterday approved a second, $64.9 million supplemental budget for the current budget year that ends June 30.

The bill reallocates existing state funds to cover a budget hole, nearly half of which is in the Department of Health and Human Services, according to Capitol News Service. About $29.7 million will be used to repay the federal government for improper Medicaid reimbursements the state received in 2002 and 2003, per order of a federal judge. Funds in the emergency budget will also cover increased costs in the MaineCare system, which faced a $35 million shortfall. Most of the budget was funded by moving funds from other state programs; however, $29.7 million was taken from state reserves, or the rainy day fund, which will drop to $6 million or $7 million, according to the news service.

The appropriations committee rejected Gov. Paul LePage's proposal to take more than $777,000 from a health insurance account for firefighters and law enforcement, instead voting to use $900,000 from salary savings from unfilled state positions. The panel also voted against taking $4.3 million from a fund that pays health insurance claims for state workers, lowering that amount to $2.4 million.

LePage is expected to sign the bill, according to the news service.

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