Dem, GOP leaders talk budget with LePage’s finance chief

The top-ranking lawmakers from both parties Thursday met with Gov. Paul LePage’s finance commissioner, Sawin Millett, to start talking over budget matters.

The Thursday afternoon meeting included discussions about an expected $35.5 million curtailment to account for flagging state tax collections, an upcoming supplemental budget to deal with a $100 million Medicaid shortfall, and the LePage administration’s proposal for the upcoming two-year budget that takes effect July 1, 2012.

House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick; Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland; House Republican leader Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport; and Senate Republican leader Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, attended the meeting, which was held in Eves’ office.

David Sorensen, a spokesman for Fredette, said the meeting didn’t touch on many details.

“This was really just a discussion between the leaders and the governor’s office,” he said. “Everything’s just very preliminary and in discussion mode.”

Jodi Quintero, a spokeswoman for Eves, said no new information emerged from the meeting, but that Eves and Alfond appreciated the chance to meet with Millett.

The pair has been unable to set up an introductory meeting with LePage.

While LePage is expected to order a spending curtailment this month — which would temporarily cut state spending by $35.5 million — the administration hasn’t released details revealing which areas of the budget could see cuts.

LePage’s spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, said earlier this week that the governor is working with cabinet members to identify areas to cut.