Partial government shutdown begins in Maine as legislature battles Governor LePage
Part of the state government in Maine was shuttered on Saturday after lawmakers were unable to send a two-year budget to the liking of Republican Paul LePage, who promised the shutdown if he sent a fiscal plan that did not include spending cuts.
The governor’s order for a partial shutdown of non-essential government services went into effect at 12:01 a.m. local time after a bipartisan effort in the state legislature failed to send a $7.055 billion two-year budget that included no new taxes to the second-term Republican.
“This is about the future of Maine. The Maine people are taxed enough. I will not tax them anymore and in my budget overall taxes were decreased,” LePage said in a statement announcing the shutdown.
Lawmakers in both chambers of the full legislature worked throughout the day to send a budget to LePage after a six-member bipartisan budget committee reached a deal on a proposed budget late on Thursday night.
The proposed budget repealed a measure that voters approved in November to impose an additional 3 percent income tax on state residents who earn more than $200,000 a year. The proposed budget also increases public education funding by $162 million.
The state Republican-controlled Senate passed the proposed budget with a 34-1 vote, but the Democrat-controlled House failed to reach the required two-thirds vote later in the day, leading to no budget measure being sent to the governor.
Even if they had, state law gives the governor 10 days to respond to any budget passed by the legislature. LePage said on Friday that he was ready to wait that long before vetoing any budget that raises taxes. Most of the government would shut during that time.
State police, parks and all offices responsible for collecting revenue would continue to operate during a shutdown, LePage has said.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Stephen Coates)