May 14, 2013

LePage: Union lawyer lied about shutdown

But the leader of the state employees union stands by the claim that plans are being made for one.

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
State House Bureau

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Turowski, who was the union's president during the 16-day shutdown in 1991, said employees either weren't paid or their paychecks were delayed.

"There are very real consequences for state employees, some of whom live paycheck to paycheck," she said.

Most state agencies ceased operations during the 1991 shutdown. Prisons and state-run hospitals continued to operate, as did the Maine State Police and other emergency personnel.

Progress in this year's budget negotiations between Democrats and Republicans has been limited, at least publicly.

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn June 19. A new budget must be enacted by July 1 to avert a shutdown that closes down "nonessential" state services. State law requires the administration to negotiate with the union to determine which agencies or services would be affected.

The administration has said that LePage has proposed a balanced budget and it's up to the Legislature to enact it. According to Belcher, the governor reiterated that point during the meeting with union representatives.

"He told us to tell the Democrats to pass his budget," Belcher said.

The political dynamic in 1991 was similar to the current one: a Republican governor, John McKernan Jr., and a Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:


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