To the Editor:
Re: “The HOPE budget” editorial (Feb. 21), I want to clarify a point of fact about Governor Mills’ budget proposal.
While one can, perhaps, argue that Mills’ budget proposal is 11 percent higher than the previous biennial budget enacted in July 2017, that reference point ignores the subsequent appropriations that the last Legislature made in 2018 under Governor LePage.
That total is the baseline from which Governor Mills is working and she can’t be responsible for the increased spending that she inherited from her predecessor.
Here are the actual values of annual appropriations: Fiscal year 2019 (the current year and second year of the FY 2018-19 biennium): $3,708,115,720.
FY20 (the first year of Mills’ proposal): $3,958,537,414 (6.8 percent increase over FY 19). FY 2021 (the second year of Mills’ proposal): $4,082,938,709 (3.1 percent increase over FY 2020 and an annualized increase of 4.9 percent over FY 2019).
The 6.8 percent increase in the first year might seem liberal but properly it needs to be understood to include paying for the deferred liability from the voter-initiated Medicaid expansion for which the last Legislature enacted additional appropriation but which the last Governor vetoed. Had the Governor not vetoed, the FY 2019 budget baseline would have been some $70 million higher.
State Rep. Brian Hubbell