Lawmakers unable to reach budget deal, deadline looms

One deadline has been missed for the budget deal, the next deadline in July 1. If that doesn’t happen, there will be a government shutdown. (WGME)

AUGUSTA (WGME) -- Hundreds of people rallied at the state house again Monday in support of Question 2.

The three percent surtax on the wealthy for education funding was passed by voters in November, and it’s what's holding up lawmakers up from approving a state budget.

Democrats are in support of the three percent surtax on households making $200,000 or more a year, while Republicans are not.

Lawmakers have just 11 days to finalize a budget to avoid a government shutdown.

It's something many don't want to see happen.

"This is not an answer to the problem. It's just going to create more of an issue for families and more of a challenge for the State of Maine,” Kaitlyn Paulette, Fairfield resident, said.

Citizens who are in favor of implementing the tax on the wealthy are urging lawmakers to pass a budget that incorporates with what the people voted for.

"The children and families that are suffering in deep poverty today, they're the ones who need our support and need our help so that one day they can be in the top two percent,” Paulette said.

To help more the process along a six member panel was formed and has been meeting since last week.

Still, there's no sign of a budget.

Republicans say increasing taxes on the wealthy will drive people out of the state and deter them from coming here.

They're looking to cut funding elsewhere.

"There are still significant differences, but they're not insurmountable. We are going to find a way to get this done,” Senate President Michael Thibodeau said.

Democrats believe it's the best option and something that's needed to fund public education, according to a statement from House Speaker Sara Gideon.

"In order to continue to do our work, to serve the people of Maine, and to close a budget, we must move this process forward. However, until the House Republican caucus decides to negotiate in good faith, Committee of Conference work has stalled."

Two thirds of the House and Senate will need to approve the budget in order for it to be finalized. A government shutdown would affect thousands of Mainers.

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