AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine budget negotiators have failed to reach a compromise, and Gov. Paul LePage is urging Republicans to hold out for a better deal.
The Republican governor said Thursday lawmakers were using the specter of a state government shutdown “to pass an irresponsible budget that increases taxes and increases spending.”
Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon blamed House Republicans for refusing to participate in negotiating on a compromise over a voter-approved tax increase on wealthy Mainers aimed to boosting education spending.
LePage praised House Republicans for standing fast as a “gang of six” tries to broker a deal.
It’s crunch time for lawmakers. The deadline is Friday for a budget if LePage is to get 10 days to review it before the fiscal year ends.
The main issue continues to be the surtax on income above $200,000 that would bring in an estimated $320 million in funding for K-12 public schools.
House Republicans are still demanding a repeal of the surtax and a smaller increase in education funding. Senate Republican President Mike Thibodeau, Republican Sen. Roger Katz, Gideon and Democratic Sen. Cathy Breen say they’re closer to a compromise with a bigger increase in school funding.
Republicans also are pushing for a slimmer spending plan.
Republican Rep. Tom Winsor said that House Republicans think that the state should be able to run on less than $7 billion — a benchmark the governor himself recently endorsed. That is roughly in line with LePage, who proposed a $6.8 billion, two-year budget in January. Democrats are calling for more spending, though they have been vague on the details.