Maine Governor Says Government Shutdown Is 'Necessary For The Future'

The civil emergency state began July 1 after the legislature failed to sign a budget into law by June 30, the last day of Maine's fiscal year.

A budget impasse between Maine Governor Paul LePage and Democratic lawmakers triggered a shutdown of nonessential state services on Saturday, after the conservative Republican threatened to veto a bipartisan compromise reached by lawmakers.

A group of six ME lawmakers has voted 5-1 to send a $7.1 billion, two-year budget proposal to the House and Senate.

Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon and Republican Senate President Michael Thibodeau said they are optimistic and expect lawmakers to vote on Friday. "We did our job in the face of tremendous pressure. I'm not taking the shut down the people who take the vote are taking the shutdown because my budgets been there since January and I'm not going away from that budget". Legislative leaders are sending the compromise measure to a vote before the full legislature Friday.

ME is one of a handful of states pushing budget talks up to the very end of the fiscal year, which is June 30 in all but four states.

LePage this week vowed he would not sign any budget that doesn't include his tax cut proposals.

The flurry of 11th-hour negotiating reflects the underlying revenue weakness that has broadly dogged states in the last two years and inflamed debates over how to spend the limited resources, according budget experts.




To suggest, as Fredette has, that lawmakers must just rollover and adopt such demands from the governor is a complete abdication of his responsibilities as a representative of the ME people.

He also proposed a lodging tax increase in his budget, which included a pathway to a flat income tax of 5.75 percent by 2020. LePage said on a radio appearance on WGAN-AM on Thursday that if he is presented with a budget that raises taxes without reducing income taxes, the state should be "ready for a shutdown". Roger Katz, a Republican, laid out the stakes.

"These are not huge items", Fredette said Saturday.

The last time the ME government shut down was 1991, Casale said, and that lasted 16 days.

On Thursday, Mr. LePage blasted a prior proposal that came from Senate Republicans, upset with one type of tax rising without another decreasing. It would be the first state government shutdown in a quarter-century in Maine. "Once a budget hits his desk, he may have a comment".

LePage's spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, also declined to get into specifics, but said the two had a tense exchange over the details of a potential compromise, and at one point both LePage and Gideon got up and left the table.

Even if two-thirds of the House voted for approval, state law gives the two-term governor up to 10 days to respond to the legislation, allowing for a partial shutdown during that time.

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