AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The Maine speaker of the House and the Senate president will personally lead the latest effort to reach a budget compromise.
The two top leaders of the legislature on Tuesday formed a special conference committee to try to break the deadlock over the budget. That six-member committee will include three Democrats and three Republicans.
Democratic Speaker Sara Gideon and Republican Senate President Mike Thibodeau will lead the committee, joined by Republican Sen. Roger Katz and Democratic Sen. Cathy Breen, along with Democratic Rep. Aaron Frey and Republican Rep. Tom Winsor.
Aside from the two leaders, the other members all serve on the budget-writing Appropriations Committee and have already been involved in months of budget discussions.
The conference committee members are expected to focus primarily on resolving the dispute over increased funding for schools, potential education reforms and the fate of the 3 percent surtax on higher incomes, which was passed by voters in November 2016.
Thibodeau said earlier Tuesday he hoped the committee could come up with a budget compromise by the end of this week.
Lawmakers have said they need to have the full legislature pass a budget by June 16 in order to allow time for the governor to take the full 10 days he is allowed to deicde on a veto, and still have time to hold veto override votes before the June 30 deadline. That's when the current state budget expires, and state government could be forced into a partial shutdown if there is not a new budget in place at that time.
This is believed to be the first time the legislature has ever resorted to a conference committee to resolve the state budget.