Maine lawmakers expected to vote on last-minute budget deal
AUGUSTA (WGME) -- Maine lawmakers are expected to vote on a last-minute budget deal Friday after tense days of negotiations.
Both Democrats and Republicans are giving up part of what they want in order to reach a deal.
The budget is officially one step closer to becoming a reality. Late Thursday night, the Committee of Conference voted 5 to 1 to send a revised budget to the full Legislature Friday morning.
The budget has a couple changes that lawmakers are hoping both sides of the aisle can swallow.
Those changes would include eliminating the 3 percent voter approved surtax on the wealthy, and would bring state education spending to $162 million.
The budget would also raise lodging taxes in the state from 9 percent to 10.5 percent.
Leaders in both the House and Senate say it’s a fair compromise over the issues that prevented them from passing a budget sooner.
Some lawmakers say they are relieved to finally get a budget on the floor, but they say the fight is far from over.
"Obviously we are all disappointed that we are essentially 24 hours from a state government shutdown in the Fourth of July weekend that's not where anybody wants to be. We hope that it's a product that our colleagues can support and we can get it down to the chief executive’s desk,” Senator Michael Thibodeau (R), Senate president, said.
"We had to make the decision with the responsibility that we have as presiding officials that we absolutely have to pass a budget for people to vote on in front of members of the Legislature and that's what we're doing,” Rep. Sara Gideon (D), Speaker of the House, said.
The House and Senate will each need 2/3's of their bodies to approve of the document for the budget to pass to the governor's desk.
Lawmakers say they haven't heard from Governor Paul LePage on whether or not he would immediately sign the budget if it passes, but the clock is ticking for the state, since a failure to pass the budget before midnight would mean a government shutdown.