Maine's Government Gets a B-
That's the word from the Government Performance Project as reported by the Morning Sentinel today. This is the second-highest grade for New England, with Vermont rating the highest with a B and New Hampshire rating the lowest with a C.
In the report, which can be read here, Maine ranked high in the "money", "people", and "infrastructure" categories while scoring a lower mark in "information". This anecdote from the report helps to explain that lower score:
Maine is a law-abiding state, and its laws require that the Governor’s Office insert into the budget at least three performance measures for every one of the state’s thousands of programs. The administration of Governor John Baldacci dutifully complied with the rules upon taking office in January 2003. The budget was then submitted to the legislature, where a clerk removed the performance measures and printed the budget bill without them, because the legislature’s computer system can’t support the measurement data.
Of course, the information still exists, and enterprising legislators can get access to it. But the whole charade highlights the chasm between performance budgeting as a paperwork mandate and as a useful instrument of the governmental process. The most telling point is that the state’s Performance Budgeting Commission has had one meeting in the past four years.
The project also faults term limits for reducing efficiency, reporting that "the underexperienced and overworked Maine legislature has been almost entirely consumed with making sure it produces a balanced budget under ruthless pressure".
It could be, however, that they just spend too much time arguing about their license plates.
[Update]: The BDN has an article on the report as well, titled "Study: Term limits compound state's fiscal woes".
Visit the new Maine Politics.