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Biennial budget bill heads to Maine Legislature for a vote this week

The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee denied an amendment proposed by Republican lawmakers and voted to move forward with LD 424.

AUGUSTA, Maine — On Friday, the Maine Legislature's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee approved an emergency bill that would allocate funding from the state's General Fund to other funding sources for the 2024-2025 budget year.

Our intention right along was to pass a continuing services budget — one that pays the bills and funds essential services. Tonight, we kept that promise," Senator Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, said in a press release.

"Maine people and businesses deserve predictability, stability, and good governance - and that’s exactly what we delivered this evening. Beyond efficient governance, Part I of our biennial budget continues critical investments in education, behavioral health care, substance use disorder treatment, property tax relief, and investments in our childcare workforce," Rep. Melanie Sachs, D-Freeport added.

Republicans asked the committee for an amendment, including income tax relief and a workgroup that would study the way unemployment, MaineCare, SNAP, and General Assistance are used in Maine.

This amendment was not approved by the committee. Democrats say that this part of the budget was focused on continuing services, and they believe the amendment would be more appropriate in part two of the budget. 

"I am extremely disheartened after this evening’s developments,” Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, said. "Republicans have been involved with the budget negotiations for weeks. We brought forth our priorities, namely, remembering the Maine taxpayer by giving structured income tax relief targeted toward low and middle-income earners. This was flatly rejected by the other party. It is stunning that the Democrats could not even agree to give back $200 million to Maine taxpayers out of a $10-plus billion budget.”

"We offered several iterations of our priorities, came back to the table numerous times in an attempt to find common ground. I am deeply disappointed with the end result. A one-party budget does not protect the best interests of Maine citizens," Rep. Sawin Millett, R-Waterford, said.

The full Legislature is expected to vote on the bill Thursday, which is 90 ahead of the last day of the fiscal year.

If the budget does not pass with a 2/3 majority, the Legislature will have to adjourn so the budget can go into effect on time, before lawmakers finish other business.

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