Two Maine Democrats are seeking a mix of spending cuts and new revenues — meaning tax hikes — from the work of the bipartisan congressional “super committee” charged with coming up with a plan to reduce the deficit.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, was one of 100 House members — 60 Democrats and 40 Republicans — to sign a letter last week to the super committee calling for the “balanced” approach.

Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District, didn’t sign the letter, but says he agrees with the sentiments.

The bipartisan House letter says it’s crucial the committee reach a recommendation. Failure to send a plan to Congress will trigger $1.2 trillion in across-the board-spending cuts.

GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine were not among the 33 GOP senators who sent the super committee a letter last week opposing tax hikes. GOP Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina spearheaded that letter, which called for tax reform that includes lower tax rates and “no net tax increase.”

LAST WEEK was a rewarding one for the federal effort to stem red tides along the Maine coast.

The federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences a $201,187 grant to help fund a three-year project aimed at early detection of the harmful algal blooms, said Snowe. It is the first installment of what is expected to be a total $574,000 grant over three years, according to Snowe and Michaud.

A bill authored by Snowe to renew the federal government’s overall algal blooms research program was approved last week by the Senate Commerce Committee.

A MAINE FARMER and former state legislator spent time in D.C. last week trying to cultivate support for legislation aiming to revamp national agriculture policies in ways that aid local farmers.

Marge Kilkelly’s appearance on Capitol Hill was part of a lobby day sponsored by the Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture promoting Pingree’s Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, which includes provisions that address a range of issues, such as building slaughterhouses to process food locally, developing crop insurance programs designed for local farmers, and helping organic farmers better reach consumers.

Kilkelly, who with her husband runs a small farm in Dresden and is a former Democratic state senator, was one of about 50 people to talk to lawmakers and their staffs. Kilkelly also works for the Council of State Governments.

Pingree unveiled her agriculture proposal two weeks ago in Maine. She officially introduced her bill last week in the House, and picked up a Senate companion when Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced the same bill in the Senate.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at: [email protected]