AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate on Friday quickly overturned 64 line-item vetoes of $60 million in spending issued a day earlier by Gov. Paul LePage, dealing another defeat to his relentless efforts to block a $6.7 billion state budget that he says was negotiated in secret and laden with “pork.”

Senators completed the lightning round of votes with a round of applause, a signal that lawmakers are committed to defeating the governor’s efforts to keep lawmakers here well into the summer.

“This is affirmation of the good work that gets done in the Legislature by Democrats and Republicans alike,” Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland, said in a statement. “When we all work together, we get things done and the people of Maine benefit.”

At the same time, the House of Representatives killed 15 additional vetoes LePage issued Thursday to remove $2.9 million in line items he disliked in the $1.13 billion highway and transportation budget, which is separate from the state budget. Additional votes in the Senate are required to complete the override of vetoes in the highway budget.

The legislative actions set the stage for what will likely be LePage’s one last chance to prevent the budget from becoming law: A veto of the entire budget as a package, which he has said he intends to do. But his effort will almost certainly be in vain, because both chambers of the Legislature passed the budget this week by more than a two-thirds margin, enough to overturn a veto.

All told, lawmakers took more than 250 separate veto votes during sessions held Thursday evening and Friday. The governor has acknowledged that his line-item vetoes were designed to delay the Legislature’s adjournment and to exact retribution for rejecting several of his key policy initiatives. That motivation helps to explain why LePage’s vetoes included several initiatives that he has strongly supported in the past, including those that would help domestic violence victims, the elderly, disabled and mentally ill.


“For five months they wasted our time. This time I am going to waste a little bit of their time,” he said Wednesday.

The governor has also said that the Legislature crafted a budget that catered to special interest groups and lobbyists. However, lawmakers didn’t have the same view. Some of the votes to overturn the vetoes were unanimous and nearly all represented a two-thirds majority.

None of the vetoes were debated before being overturned.

LePage accused lawmakers of using the transportation budget to pay for non-transportation projects. On Friday, Rep. Wayne Parry, R-Arundel, a member of the Transportation Committee that vetted and approved the budget said the committee had approved the spending plan unanimously and that the governor’s vetoes were irresponsible.

LePage has 10 days, not including Sunday, to act on the budget, and he is expected to use most of that time, bringing the state closer to a constitutional July 1 deadline that would trigger a government shutdown if a budget is not approved by that date.

LePage’s moves are certain to delay the end of the legislative session, an outcome that is also likely to increase costs to Maine taxpayers by an estimated $18,000 for each additional day of the session.


On Thursday, House members tore through his vetoes in rapid succession. Some votes were completed in less than 25 seconds. On Twitter, lawmakers tweeted photos of mobile phones set to stopwatch mode.

Democratic lawmakers deployed the Twitter hashtag “keep calm and veto.” Rep. Erick Jorgensen, D-Portland, tweeted a photo of crossword puzzles spread out near his voting buttons.

He tweeted, “Crosswords and voting buttons ready to go in advance of hours of veto voting. #mepolitics #keepcalmandoverride”

House Speaker Mark Eves said the override votes preserved the bipartisan budget deal that LePage has worked to defeat.

“Our bipartisan budget agreement stands firm,” he said in a statement. “The votes tonight are a big win for middle class families, seniors, students and workers who are one step closer to seeing a tax cut, property tax relief and investments in our schools.”

The House and Senate will reconvene on Monday.

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

Twitter: @stevemistler

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