August 28, 2013

Bill to reopen Maine state office likely dead

The Associated Press

AUGUSTA — A state of Maine office will remain closed after lawmakers chose to table a bill on Wednesday that would have reopened it.

Department of Administrative and Financial Services Commissioner Sawin Millett recently decided to close the Maine Revenue Services office in Houlton to save $900,000 over two years. Five of the jobs are moving to the Augusta office and nine jobs are being eliminated, said David Heidrich, spokesman for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.

If it had been approved on Wednesday, the bill would have been taken up by the full Legislature during a special session Thursday.

But Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash, the bill's sponsor, said Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who opposed the bill, told lawmakers he would rescind his order for a special session if the bill was advanced Wednesday. Because that would have put a $149.5 million bond proposal that is up for a vote Thursday at risk, Democrats agreed not to advance the Houlton proposal, Jackson said.

LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said the decision to close the office was a "matter of savings and efficiencies in government" and is within the purview of the administration. She said that while the elimination of the positions was regrettable, they are necessary due to the state's financial position.

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