AUGUSTA – The legislature’s Appropriations Committee met Wednesday afternoon and leaders of both parties said it’s the first step needed to move forward with a bunch of unfinished business.
Just before the committee got together to discuss the 100-plus bills left on the table, groups that are waiting for funding gathered outside to urge lawmakers to go to do their jobs.
“Please talk to your representative and senators and urge them to go back to Augusta and finish the job they are hired to do,” said Sheriff Kevin Joyce of Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and Maine Sheriff’s Association.
Home care and direct care workers, some who work with Mainers with developmental or intellectual difficulties, gathered with members of the Maine Sheriff’s Association and Maine School Management to stress action is needed.
Before the meeting started, Democratic and Republican leaders also issued calls for action, be it a different action.
“That would be my hope, that we move forward, bare minimum, on the six bills I described,” said Jim Hamper, R-Oxford.
The six bills Hamper wants to move forward are what he calls “immediacy bills” and include funding for homecare and direct care workers, nursing homes, private non-medical insurance, and $18.3 million in funding for county jails.
The county jails funding “is just simply transferring money for the left pocket to the right pocket. The money is there,” Hamper said. “All we need to do it move it.”
The Democratic leader, however, says he’s more interested in working out a budget package.
“We need to take a broader look than just a handful of bills,” said Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook. “And I think it would be irresponsible for us to start out the conversation by starting to move bills one by one.”
Both Gattine and Hamper said the worst thing that could happen is nothing.