Governor Paul LePage announced today that he is transferring funds to rectify a budget shortfall at the Maine Commission for Indigent Legal Services totaling $913,890.
On Monday, the Governor authorized the transfer of $164,800 in unallocated funds from the State's Contingency Account. The State Contingency Fund is a General Fund Program established for use by the Governor as he or she deems it necessary.
Another $750,000 was transferred by Governor LePage from FY12 projected personnel services balances in Maine Revenue Services. According to statute, the Governor may access additional funds from personnel services balances if the funds remaining in the State Contingent Account are not sufficient. On Tuesday, Governor LePage signed a financial order to reallocate those funds to the Maine Commission for Indigent Legal Services.
Without this action from Governor LePage attorneys would have gone five weeks without getting paid for legal services provided.
"We can no longer afford to be a government that delays payments to those who provide services to Maine people. Indigent legal services are important as are our hospitals and medical providers," Governor LePage said. "Paying our bills is a priority of my administration."
The Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services provides legal counsel to Maine citizens who cannot afford legal services, but are entitled to counsel under the United States Constitution or Maine statutes.
"The Governor's action to cover the Commission's shortfall is great and welcome news. I want to thank the Governor for his support and his recognition of the value and importance of the work done by assigned counsel," said Indigent Services Commission Chair Ron Schneider. "This money means a great deal to the small business people who provide an essential and constitutionally-required service for the State."
The budget shortfall for the Commission was resulted from a rise in the cost of legal services rendered, as well as higher than projected number of cases acquired. Projections for FY11 projected 25,041 cases for the Commission. The total vouchers claimed for services, however, were 26,601. The cost of these legal services increased from an average of $389.63 per case, to $405.30.