AUGUSTA – There is no “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager” provided for in Maine’s newly passed state budget, but that didn’t stop Governor Janet Mills from creating one “within” the office of DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. The announcement was made quietly on the DHHS website on November 6.
The new diversity
manager will begin work on December 9th and work from the
commissioner’s office. Two individuals with deep knowledge of state budgets
past and present have confirmed to Maine Examiner that the position is not funded
in the state budget – meaning Governor Mills is likely using funds from the
DHHS budget that were originally meant for some other purpose to fund the position.
Word of the
new position being added is sure to rankle advocates for Maine’s nursing homes
and disabled Mainers on waiting lists. Republicans recently began a new push to
pressure Governor Janet Mills to release funds provided for nursing homes earlier
this year following a series of nursing home closings.
Mainers on waiting lists to receive state services have also been left
languishing, despite nearly $1 billion in new state spending under Mills’ new
Mills’ spending at DHHS on other priorities has come under fire while nursing homes and Mainers with disabilities are on the back burner. Mills provided emergency funds for some illegal immigrants who arrived in Portland over the summer as “asylum seekers” although the data shows most will not be granted asylum status.
The Portland crisis resulted from an attempt by now-ousted Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling publicly calling for more non-citizens to be sent to Portland to show up President Donald Trump during the southern border crisis.
Chief, Jeanne Lambrew, also drew criticism recently. Lambrew testified before
the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee without providing a
single piece of financial data among the twenty pages of handouts.
is the state’s largest agency, with a biennial budget of more than $8 Billion
state and federal funds, with 2,932 employees. Until only the past few years,
DHHS has had a long history of running in the red. Keeping track of how fast
DHHS is spending and whether DHHS is on budget is critical for managing the
state’s fiscal health.”
would expect that when the DHHS Commissioner presents to the Appropriations and
Financial Affairs Committee, she would talk about her agency’s finances. That
isn’t what happened last week,” said a Facebook post from the non-profit Maine
People Before Politics.
The group provided an itemized list of some of the things Lambrew did not provide specific financial data on. That list includes the “hundreds” of new workers the Mills administration says it is hiring at DHHS and for failing to lay out the costs of the “unbudgeted” general assistance and welfare benefits for non-citizens.