AUGUSTA (AP) — Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s administration is presenting his $6.8 billion budget to legislators who’ve rejected similar ideas before.

LePage is using his final two-year budget proposal to push for big changes to Maine’s tax structure and school funding formula, cuts to welfare programs and a statewide teacher contract. The governor has said lawmakers lack the courage to tackle such proposals, which include a flat income tax of 5.75 percent by 2020, eliminating the estate tax and making the sales tax apply to more services, like movie tickets.

Lawmakers will start holding hearings new week on the governor’s complex ideas to prepare a budget by a June deadline.

Democratic leaders said Monday they’re concerned about LePage’s call to eliminate 500 state jobs. They also say they want to preserve local control of schools and ensure the tax burden isn’t shifted on property owners.

“We don’t see any white knight coming into Maine and making it all better for our people,” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Troy Jackson said.

Republican legislative leaders said they’re open to delving into LePage’s ideas and that it’s too soon to say any are off the table.

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