A return to civility. Budget consensus. Incentives for renewable energy.

Kim Cook

These were among the predictions offered by a trio of lobbyists who shared their expectations for the Mills administration and the next legislative session at the Nov. 28 Business Breakfast Forum. The panel: Mike Saxl, former Speaker of the Maine House and now a lobbyist with Maine Street Solutions and of counsel with Verrill Dana; Josh Tardy, who twice served as House Minority Leader, is of counsel with Rudman Winchell and a lobbyist with a firm he founded, Mitchell, Tardy & Jackson; and Kim Cook, who founded government affairs firm Government Strategies in 2006, and serves on the Portland City Council.

Josh Tardy

The veteran legislative lobbyists agreed that Gov.-elect Janet Mills is a moderate Democrat and fiscal conservative, both of which will serve her well as she tries to build bipartisan support for her initiatives.

Among their expectations:

There will be an early consensus on a state budget that will pass with a supermajority of lawmakers.

Medicaid expansion will go forward, likely financed with federal money and a 10 percent match from state surplus revenues.

A raft of employment-related legislation to do things like increase minimum wage, mandate family leave and paid sick time will likely arise this session.

Mike Saxl

Mike Saxl: The person with the hardest job when the 129th Legislature convene will be Matt Moonen, the House Majority Leader. “He will have to manage pent-up expectations,” said Saxl, noting that Democrats had been neutralized for eight years under LePage and they are chomping at the bit to initiate change.

Josh Tardy: There’s additional capacity in the state’s ability to bond, which will likely be used by the Mills administration to finance things like broadband expansion and infrastructure projects, following “LePage’s fiscally conservative approach.”

Kim Cook: Expect an effort to “rebalance taxes” and a renewed commitment to the state’s 5 percent revenue-sharing threshold, which was lowered to 2 percent under the LePage administration. That should offer municipalities some measure of property tax relief, she said.

To hear a recording of the entire conversation, click here.

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