UPDATE 1:45 PM: The latest state budget compromise fell short in its first vote in the Maine House on Monday. The 92-54 vote for the budget was 9 votes short of the needed two-thirds majority.
Most House Republicans continue to oppose the plan, with the major issue being a $21 million dollar increase in the lodging tax. Democratic Speaker of the House Rep. Sara Gideon told House members, in response to a question from a GOP lawmaker, that Governor LePage had told her in a phone conversation that he would sign the budget if that tax was removed.
The budget was passed unanimously in the Senate, and a second House vote is expected shortly.
The current budget bill cannot be amended, so the tax cannot be taken out of it. But Rep. John Martin (D-Eagle Lake), one of the Democrats’ budget negotiators, said he won’t support the eliminating the lodging tax hike. Martin said if Republicans try to do that he will try to restore the 3% income tax surcharge that the budget repeals, and that would present a major problem for Republicans, as well as a possible protracted new round of negotiations.
UPDATE 1:05 PM: Maine House of Representatives voted around 1:00 p.m. on Monday on the budget compromise 92 to 54, which is less than the two-thirds vote needed to pass. Now the budget compromise will head to the State Senate. The House will have another chance to vote.
AUGUSTA, Maine ( NEWS CENTER) —The stage is set for another state budget showdown in the Maine House of Representatives on Monday.
A special Committee of Conference, created to resolve the budget stalemate, passed a new budget compromise plan Sunday night. That package contains the same two major items as the previous package: a $162 million increase in school funding in exchange for eliminating the controversial three percent income tax surcharge on incomes higher than $200,000.
It also contains an increase in the lodging tax, which House Republicans and Gov. Paul LePage had said was not acceptable. The new budget plan delays the start of that tax increase until November, but the fact that the tax was still in the budget led the one House GOP member on the six-member committee to vote against the budget plan. The full committee vote was 5-1.
The budget needs to win approval by a two-thirds majority of the full Legislature when it goes to a vote on Monday. Two-thirds can only be reached with significant Republican support. On Friday, the previous budget plan fell 14 votes short of the needed total of 101 House votes.
Monday is the first workday of the current state government shutdown, and the Maine State Employees Association is promising a large rally by workers to protest.
Governor LePage took to Facebook to continue the budget stalemate.
In his post, LePage says, once again, he will not sign any budget that he does not approve, and that would include any budget that increases taxes.