Augusta, Maine (NEWS CENTER) This is the last day of hearings for the committee. And while much of what the Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry does is not seen by large numbers of people the budget is felt by farmers, forest land owners and people who use the outdoors. In this case, those who go to state parks.The budget would cut 15 seasonal ranger positions and 9 maintenance people...accounting for about 400-thousand dollars. But the money would go instead to private contract workers to do maintenance. Department Commissioner Walter Whitcomb told Legislators it will result in greater efficiency, especially with maintenance.. But critics...including State House Democrats...complain it would hurt the parks' ability to serve the thousands of people who visit them, and could damage Maine's image. The entire budget, as proposed, reduces a total of about 500 positions throughout state government. The hearing is still going on and this issue, like all the others will be argued and analyzed over the next two and a half months as they wort through the countless pieces of the budget. We'll have more on this tonight on News Center.
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