Late Monday night, the legislature passed and Gov. Paul LePage signed a $7.1 billion budget for the 2018-19 biennium, ending a three day shutdown of state government.

The compromise budget sailed through the legislature, passing unanimously in the Senate and 147-2 in the House. The final bill removes a 3 percent surtax on incomes more than $200,000 passed by voters in November, as well as a proposed 1.5 percent increase in the lodging tax. In return, Democrats won an additional $162 million in education funding, as well as $1.15 million to go to the Head Start program. MaineCare reimbursement rates for behavioral health services will not be cut over the next two years under the deal.

LePage signed the budget aftern midnight Monday night, terminating his executive order to shut the state government down.

“I thank legislators for doing the right thing by passing a budget that does not increase taxes on the Maine people,” said LePage in a statement. “I especially thank the House Republicans for standing strong throughout these very tough budget negotiations to protect Mainers from an unnecessary tax hike. I am pleased to announce state government will reopen and resume normal operations.”

“This unnecessary shutdown needed to come to an end. Despite House Republicans throwing up roadblocks at every turn, we were able to close a budget that makes the largest investment in public education in our state’s history,” said House Speaker Sarah Gideon. 

“Democrats negotiated the best possible deal for Mainers,” she added. “We pledged to be the voice of the people in this budget debate and we never stopped fighting. This budget will increase education funding, lower property taxes, strengthen our economy and protect seniors and Mainers with disabilities. We’ve done exactly that in this budget.”

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