AUGUSTA – The Legislature decided to pay itself for work through June 8, though the statutory adjournment date was June 15. Leaders were optimistic they would be able to finish work early.

Instead, both dates have passed and lawmakers toil on.

Members of the Appropriations Committee will meet on Thursday to sort through the dozens and dozens of bills that require money for implementation. Then the full Legislature is scheduled to come back June 28 to finish leftover work.

Some of its votes that day will decide the measures that get the loose change from the Appropriations table, others will finally enact lingering bills such as one that would authorize charter schools, and yet others will be taken on any measures that get vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage.

Democrats, who are out of the majority for the first time in decades, have been quick to point out that every extra day of this session is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars, even though lawmakers are going without pay.

EDUCATION LEVELS

Maine’s legislators, as a group, are less educated than their counterparts in every other state except New Hampshire, according to a recent study by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The study showed that 58 percent of Maine’s lawmakers graduated from a four-year college, compared with about 75 percent nationally. Only New Hampshire’s Legislature has a lower percentage of college graduates, 53.4 percent.

The five states with the highest percentages have professional legislatures, meaning the lawmakers typically don’t have other jobs. The top five states are California, Virginia, Nebraska, New York and Texas.

The five whose lawmakers are the least educated are Arkansas, New Mexico, Delaware, Maine and New Hampshire. Of those, only Arkansas and Delaware have professional legislatures.

In California, where nearly 90 percent of lawmakers have at least a bachelor’s degree, each of 80 assemblymen gets a $95,000 salary, has a full-time staff and represents about 400,000 people.

Maine’s 186 lawmakers receive annual salaries that average out to $11,700 over a two-year term. They also get a $70 daily allowance during the session, and free health insurance.

Of course, Maine’s low ranking for education isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In 1776, as the colonies were forming new governments, John Adams wrote that the representative assembly “should be in miniature an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason and act like them.”

In that case, Maine lawmakers may be overachievers. Only 26 percent of all adult Maine residents have bachelor’s degrees. The national average is 28 percent.

A CHANGE IN VOTE

Sen. Nancy Sullivan, D-Biddeford, explained on the Senate floor last week why she voted against the state budget before voting for it.

On Wednesday night, Sullivan gave a passionate floor speech about her impending retirement as a teacher and how proposed changes to the retirement system would affect her.

But after she cast her “no” vote, she said, she spoke with Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, about her interest in expressing disappointment while not being “an obstructionist.”

She called her husband to talk about the dilemma.

“Will you install a ‘yes, no’ button at home so when I need therapy, I’ll press ‘no’ and feel better?” she said to her husband of 32 years.

Sullivan ultimately decided to support the budget, even though her benefits in retirement will not be what she was promised when she began her teaching career.

“This is a good budget,” she said. “Perfect, it is not.”

NATIONAL PARK LOBBY

As they bide their time until the next session day, lawmakers are likely to hear from at least a few people who support the idea of putting a national park in the north woods.

Jym St. Pierre of Restore: The North Woods sent out an action alert on Thursday urging people to call lawmakers and express opposition to Senate Paper 519. The resolution sponsored by Sen. Kevin Raye, R-Perry, says the Legislature opposes creating a national park in northern Maine and asks “that the president of the United States and Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar deny requests to conduct a feasibility study concerning establishing a national park in Maine’s north woods.”

The resolution passed in the Senate, 31-3, and has received initial House passage.

OFF-SEASON READING LIST

Assistant House Minority Leader Terry Hayes, D-Buckfield, has compiled a summer reading list based on recommendations from House lawmakers and staff.

The list includes things you might expect — the Bible, books by Thomas Friedman and Doris Kearns Goodwin — but there are other suggestions.

Rep. Andrea Boland, D-Sanford, a tireless advocate for cellphone warning labels, suggested the Blackberry owners manual. Rep. Deb Sanderson, R-Chelsea, suggested the classic “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand.

Rep. Kim Rosen, R-Bucksport, listed “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, a book that Hayes highly recommends.

Hayes, who reads old-school style instead of using an e-reader, said she passed along the title of a book that a visitor to the State House gave her. It’s called “Deer Hunting with Jesus” by Joe Bageant, and, according to Hayes, it is “an analysis of how the Democratic base has shifted and why.”

CAIN IN GOVERNING MAGAZINE

House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, was listed in a recent edition of Governing magazine as a Democratic state leader to watch.

In separate blogs, the magazine listed up-and-coming Republicans and Democrats. Cain, 31, was the only person from Maine to make the list.

The magazine was looking to highlight lawmakers who demonstrate leadership and have “a long future, particularly with the possibility of winning higher office at the state or federal level.”

Cain cannot run for the House again in 2012 because of term limits.

MORE CHANGES IN DEP

Former lobbyist Pattie Aho has been named acting commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Aho had been serving as deputy commissioner since February. She replaces Jim Brooks, a longtime DEP staffer who left recently to become environmental manager of the Verso Paper Corp.’s Bucksport mill, according to a press release sent out late last week.

Brooks replaced Darryl Brown, who resigned as commissioner in April because of an apparent conflict of interest with state and federal laws. Brown now is director of the State Planning Office.

Aho lives in Newcastle and worked previously as a lobbyist with the Portland-based Pierce Atwood law firm.

GOP GETS NEW DIRECTOR

Christie-Lee McNally has stepped aside as executive director of the Maine Republican Party to spend more time with her children, says Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster.

“She was great, wonderful, and she was part of our overall team that helped win the Legislature. I’m going to miss her,” he said.

Michael Quatrano, a veteran of the past three campaign cycles, replaced McNally a few weeks ago. Webster said he interviewed several candidates and selected Quatrano because of his ability to organize voters.

“His ground skills are amazing when it comes to organizing phone banks and that kind of stuff. It’s going to work out well, I think,” Webster said.

MaineToday Media State House Writers Tom Bell, Susan Cover and Rebekah Metzler contributed to this column.