Gov. John E. Baldacci took steps Friday, Oct. 1, to reduce state spending by more than $10 million in the current fiscal year.

According to a press release from the Governor’s Office, Baldacci signed a curtailment Executive Order to reduce spending by $8.8 million, consistent with special curtailment authority included in the supplemental budget passed this spring.

In addition, Baldacci identified $1.2 million in additional spending freezes that can be implemented through the Department of Administrative and Financial Services and he directed the department to pursue other spending freezes that can be implemented within its authority.

“While Maine’s economy is beginning to recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression, we know that there are many tough choices ahead. The most responsible approach is to constrain spending now,” said Baldacci in a press release.

“I am exercising my authority to reduce spending immediately, as contained in the bipartisan budget passed last spring, and I am aggressively implementing other administrative strategies to cut spending.”

In August, the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama enacted legislation that included federal support for Medicaid and provided funding to protect education jobs. The legislation provided $76.2 million in enhanced Medicaid funding and $39 million in direct support to local school districts.

Maine’s budget had anticipated increased federal Medicaid support of $85 million, and granted the governor special authority to curtail in the event Congress did not act or acted in a way that provided less than that amount.

Maine finished the last fiscal year June 30, 2010, with revenues that exceeded projections by $70.4 million. The law required those funds to be deposited into the Budget Stabilization Fund, the Loan Insurance Reserve Fund at the Finance Authority of Maine, General Fund Operating Capital, the State retirement system and retiree health, the Capital Construction and Improvement Reserve Fund and the governor’s contingent account.

According to the press release, revenues for the first two months of the current fiscal year are above projections by $22.5 million; the Maine Revenue Service estimated the better-than-expected performance can be partially attributed to the timing of payments.

“Given the context of the budget language, current revenue performance and the continued uncertainty of the economic recovery, the actions I am taking today are responsible and prudent,” said Gov. Baldacci in the release.

“They will constrain spending and give the next governor and next Legislature more options as they work to develop a supplemental budget and the next two-year budget.”

According to the press release, the curtailment order is temporary and serves to reduce the rate of spending until a supplemental budget can be passed. The budget language set a deadline for a curtailment of Oct. 1.

The process to identify the curtailments began when state departments and agencies were assigned reduction targets. Each department or agency presented options and program impact analyses to meet the targets. The proposed reductions were evaluated based on a number of factors, including the effects on public health and safety, the extent that the impact could be minimized and whether the proposal, insofar as practicable, followed the intent of the Legislature.

General Purpose Aid to Education and funding for higher education are not included in the reductions.

“The school year has begun and local districts need time to prepare for the loss of Recovery Act dollars, which will impact their budgets next year,” said Gov. Baldacci.

The curtailment order has been reviewed by the Office of the Attorney General.

The Legislature and the Judiciary are not included in the curtailment order. According to the press release, the leaders of both branches agreed to make reductions in spending consistent with the scope of Baldacci’s orders.