Republicans Propose Emergency Jail Funding Mechanism

Augusta – The Appropriations Committee is today holding a public hearing on a measure to fund Maine’s jails. A stopgap measure, the legislation provides $2.1 million in funding for the state’s jails through the end of this fiscal year.

Senator James Hamper (R-Oxford), Chair of the Appropriations Committee, and Representative Tom Winsor (R-Norway), Republican House Lead of the Committee, arrived at the idea about a new funding mechanism last week.

“I am pleased we were able to find a creative, effective way to fix a problem within government, and I hope we are able to do that often this year.” said Senator Hamper. “This is a good first step to keep the jails afloat while we work to solve the bigger issues.”

Added Representative Winsor, “This was a problem that needed our immediate attention and I’m pleased we were able to come up with a solution. We know this is only a temporary fix that stops the bleeding and it buys more time to work out a comprehensive, long-term plan that works for everyone.”

Senate President Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo) praised the solution, saying, “I would like to thank Senator Jim Hamper for his leadership on this matter, as well as the entire Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. I am looking forward to the full Senate and House of Representatives voting on this in a timely manner in order to provide our jails with the funding they need.”

Attached as an amendment to another spending bill, LD 234, the jail funding measure essentially bypasses the Board of Corrections by creating a receivership for money from the General Fund. In the past, funds for the jails have gone from the General Fund to the Board of Corrections and then to the jails. The change is necessary because the Board of Corrections has only two members at this time.

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