State May End the Fiscal Year with a Small Surplus
Maine's current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, 2012,
may end with a small surplus.† The Appropriations and
Financial Affairs Committee heard from the Maine Revenue Services
last week that revenues are currently above projections made in
April, meaning the State could see a modest surplus.† It
appears to be difficult to discern any trend in these increased
revenues, as some of the increase is due to unexpected events, like
one very large estate tax payment in May.
Should the State end the year in the black, this does not mean
there will be additional funds for the Government to spend.†
Maine statute already contains a "cascade," which
determines how excess revenues will be distributed at the end of
the fiscal year.† Only amounts in excess of funds already
earmarked in the "cascade" are truly funds that are not
already spoken for, and a surplus above and beyond the
"cascade" is unlikely.
Early Polling Released in U.S. Senate Race
A poll released last week asked Maine voters who they would vote
for today in the race to fill the U.S. Senate seat currently held
by Senator Olympia Snowe.† The poll shows former Governor
Angus King (unenrolled) in the lead with 50 percent of the vote,
followed by Secretary of State Charlie Summers (Republican) with 23
percent of the vote and State Senator Cynthia Dill (Democrat) with
9 percent of the vote.††Seventeen percent of those
surveyed were undecided.
Candidates Dropping out of Legislative Races
Following the primary elections earlier this month, a number of
legislative candidates have announced that they are withdrawing
their names from the general election ballot.† Provided a
candidate withdraws on or before 5 p.m. on July 9th (the
second Monday in July), another candidate can be selected by a
local party committee to be placed on the general election
ballot.† It is not unusual for political parties to take
advantage of this procedure by running "placeholder" or
"paper" candidates on the primary ballot in order to buy
extra time in which to identify actual candidates to be placed on
November's ballot.† This practice has drawn some criticism
this year, most likely because both Republican and Democrat
candidates for House District 57 have withdrawn from the race,
leaving no candidate on the ballot for the time being (both parties
intend to nominate replacement candidates for this seat soon).
Prescription Drug Task Force Prepares First Report
In the fall of 2011, Attorney General William Schneider held a
prescription drug abuse summit.† The result of that summit was
an Executive Order signed by Governor LePage creating the 17-member
Maine Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force to address this
issue.† The Task Force is charged with reporting to the
Governor every 6 months on the actions that they have taken and any
recommendations that they have formulated.† The Task Force has
been meeting regularly and met this week to review a draft of its
first report.† The Task Force and its work are very timely, as
recent media reports have tied a sharp increase in Maine's
crime rate in 2011 to prescription drug abuse.† Moreover,
pharmacy robberies in Maine for 2012 already match the number of
robberies committed during the entire year in 2011.
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