AUGUSTA, Maine — House leaders from both parties are laying out their plans for the next two years.
Democratic Majority Leader Representative Maureen Terry, D-Gorham, and Assistant Majority Leader Representative Kristen Cloutier, D-Lewiston, said they are looking forward to building on the work they've already done.
"We've gotten so much done. We have so much left to do and our members have so much left to do on getting to the next step on some of the initiates we've taken in the last few years," Terry said.
Terry and Cloutier added that the top issues for House Democrats include:
- Tribal sovereignty, after Mills vetoed a related bill last session
- Behavioral health
- Health care
- Workforce development
"Being in a housing crisis, not having enough units for people to live in, having affordability be an issue, homelessness across the state I think is at record levels, so really figuring out what I consider to be a housing-first model," Cloutier said.
Republicans said it all comes down to dollars and cents and how to keep more money in the pockets of Mainers. House Minority Leader Representative Billy Bob Faulkingham added being in the minority means working closely with Democrats.
"If we're going to get anything passed, it's going to have to be with Democrats' support, so we're going to stay engaged with the process, especially the budget," Faulkingham said.
She said she's proud of this budget, which doesn't raise taxes.
"[The budget] leaves the rainy-day fund untouched at its record high level of more than $900 million," Mills said at a press conference.
House and Senate minority leaders said it's not enough to not raise taxes; they need to be lowered.
"Clearly if we've got over a billion dollars more than we did two years ago when we went through this exercise, the people of the state of Maine are taxed too much," Senate Majority Leader Trey Stewart, R-Aroostook, said.
Faulkingham added these major issues for the House Republicans this session:
- Making sure Mainers are keeping more of their own money
- Lowering energy cost
- Lowering the cost of other expenses