Maine House Republicans stick with Gov. LePage, torpedo bipartisan budget compromise

Maine House Republicans stick with Gov. LePage, torpedo bipartisan budget compromise

A bipartisan agreement to fund previously-passed bills failed to garner the 2/3rds vote needed in the Maine House to override an expected veto by Governor Paul LePage after all but two House Republicans voted in opposition yesterday evening.

The package, which passed on a bipartisan 30-4 vote in the Senate, contains funding to improve law enforcement and health care staffing, reduce debt loads for post-secondary students, raise wages for workers who serve seniors and Mainers with disabilities and prevent local property tax increases.

“Every single person who voted against this compromise budget which includes only the most basic, emergency bills owes the people of Maine an explanation,” said House Speaker Mark Eves in a statement. “When any lawmaker wants to leave our seniors behind, refuse to invest in our public safety, and neglect the most vulnerable among us, Democrats will stand up, and fight back. That’s what we did tonight and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”

Members of Maine law enforcement and mental health care workers from Riverview Psychiatric Hospital were in the House gallery on Tuesday night to watch the vote, having previously testified in favor of several of its provisions.

In addition to $18.2m in funding, the agreement would also see $45.5m added to the Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as the “Rainy Day Fund.”

The opposition of Republican legislators in the House is surprising. Not only have the underlying bills been approved previously, but a budget surplus to fund the priorities is available and 40% of the spending in the package was actually originally proposed by Republican Gov. LePage himself.

Photo via Andi Parkinson.

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