AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Tensions appear to be increasing as the Legislature nears what leaders have said is the deadline for passing a new state budget.
There was apparently a closed-door confrontation Thursday between Speaker of the House Sara Gideon and House Republican Leader Ken Fredette. Gideon described it to NEWS CENTER as a “very active discussion,” while Fredette said the Speaker had "shouted at me" during the meeting.
A special conference committee formed by the Senate President and House Speaker started work Wednesday, but hasn’t been able to come up with a big compromise. Speaker of the House Sara Gideon blamed House Republicans.
"At this point, their education spending number is so far, far, far away, even from their GOP counterparts in the senate, that it's as if we are negotiating a budget from different planet," said Gideon.
GOP leader Ken Fredette said he has made it clear that his members, and the Governor want education reform, and not a big new spending package for schools.
"Frankly, we want to continue working with the Governor to the extent we have until June 30 to get a budget done," Fredette said.
But Gideon accused Fredette of refusing to be an active part of the negotiations, claiming the reluctance of House Republicans to offer alternative budget plans has frustrated to process, and prevented passage of a true compromise to take to the full Legislature for a vote.