By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,136)
Mayor Michael Brennan has voiced concern over the proposed thirty percent cut to programs funded by the Fund for a Healthy Maine (FHM) and administered by the City of Portland. FHM, funds received by the state from the Master Tobacco Settlement, are the only dollars dedicated to prevent chronic disease and health promotion in Maine. While details are not complete, the Republican Legislative Leadership budget proposal calls for cuts of at least $250,000 to city programs specifically Healthy Maine Partnerships, school-based health centers and home visitation, according to a press released issued yesterday by the City’s spokeswoman, Nicole Clegg. Mayor Brennan is an LCSW.
“As a legislator, I was proud to be a part of the effort to invest the monies coming from the tobacco settlement into programs that would prevent disease and help Mainers live healthy and acative lives, and as Mayor, I see the direct benefit of these investments in our community,” stated Mayor Brennan. “This simple fact of the matter is that the old adage penny wise and pound foolish applies to these cuts. For every dollar the state has invested in these prevention efforts, Maine has saved approximately $7.50 in costs, the highest return of investment of any state in the country.”
“Healthy families are the key to a healthy economy. Children do better in school, workers are more productive and businesses can add jobs because their health care costs are lower. I consistently hear from businesses leaders that health care costs are holding them back from expanding. If we want to be aggressive about building our economy for the future we need to adopt policies that help businesses control these costs and investments in prevention and health promotion are key.”
The budget proposal calls for $185,000 in cuts to the city’s Healthy Maine Partnerships, Healthy Portland and Healthy Casco Bay. These programs are community coalitions that focus on preventing tobacco use, eliminating involuntary expposure to second hand smoke, increasing physical activity and improving nutrition. Beyond the direct health benefit, the Healthy Maine Partnerships in Cumberland County have been able to bring in more than $4.5 million of additional local, state and federal prevention dollars to the region.
the impact of the proposed cuts to FHM would result in a 14% reduction of funding for the city’s Home Visitation program, which serves three hundred and fifty families annually with home visits and nine hundred families per year with support groups. This program helps to ensure that from birth Maine children’s health is a priority.
Please visit Post # 1,072, dated 1/30/12 for more background on this subject of budget cuts.