Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By Michael Shepherd email@example.com
State House Bureau
(Continued from page 1)
Gov. Paul LePage speaks during a budget rally on Thursday June 20, 2013 in the Hall of Flags at the State House in Augusta surrounded by 60 of his closest supporters. A day short of his deadline,LePage made good on long-standing threats to veto a bipartisan two-year state budget proposal unanimously endorsed by a legislative committee.
Staff photo by Joe Phelan
"I don't see a viable plan or alternative to the budget," Fredette said Monday.
LePage has floated an alternative, asking for a 60-day resolution that would buy him time to avoid a shutdown while negotiating with lawmakers. But Attorney General Janet Mills has said the Legislature, by law, cannot pass a "continuing resolution" in place of a balanced two-year budget.
In recent days, LePage's office has sent out news releases criticizing the budget's education provisions, saying the committee cut $18.4 million proposed by the administration, including funding targeted for school improvement.
In a statement Monday, LePage called the cuts "irresponsible" and demonstrative of Democrats' "misplaced priorities."
Goodall called the initiatives that got cut "pet projects" that "were not focused on improving public education."
However, the Appropriations Committee didn't reduce education funding in the budget. It redirected most of the $18.4 million and put it into the Essential Program and Services formula that funds schools, said Rachel Tremblay, the education analyst for the Legislature's nonpartisan Office of Fiscal and Program Review.
In total, Tremblay said, the committee's budget would spend an average of $19 million more per year on education than LePage's budget would.
Looking ahead to the vote on the override, Goodall said he is "very confident" that senators will stick by their decision June 13 to approve the budget.
Fredette said the situation in his caucus is "fluid." In the vote approving the budget, 32 Republicans opposed it and 22, including Fredette, supported it.
In that vote, nine Democrats opposed the budget, largely because it would maintain Republican-backed income-tax cuts passed in 2011.
On Friday, Rep. Denise Harlow, D-Portland, one of those nine, said she didn't know how she would vote on an override.
But House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, said Monday that he thinks the budget will pass.
"I think that they'll listen to reason," he said.
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