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Political Brew: Maine's 'majority budget,' the 2022 race for governor, and Biden's infrastructure plan

This week our analysts are former Republican state senator Phil Harriman and Democratic activist Betsy Sweet.

MAINE, USA — There will be no budget deadlock or government shutdown in June. Democrats in the legislature passed an $8.3 billion biennial budget without Republican support.

Phil Harriman recalls that when he served in the Maine Senate, a majority budget passed under then-governor Angus King created unintended consequences for years. 

Harriman says Democrats "are going to regret having done this" because it will harm chances of getting bipartisan support for other measures. He believes "Republicans would have come to a two-thirds budget" because they would not want to be responsible for a government shutdown.

Betsy Sweet believes Republicans in Augusta forced the issue by dragging their feet on the recent supplemental budget.

RELATED: Maine's battle of words over new budget plan

She says Democrats have pass what amounts to a 'continuing resolution,' which allows towns to work on local budgets and lets everyone know what they can expect.

Sweet says, "Now they can get to the work of making changes, things that they need to add or subtract to the budget. I think it was a good move."

The 2022 gubernatorial campaign is starting to take shape.

Gov. Janet Mills (D-Maine) has not formally announced she is seeking re-election, but this week she sent out a couple of fundraising e-mails.

Credit: Janet Mills for Maine campaign

But who will be her opponent?

Harriman believes former Gov. Paul LePage has given all the necessary signals that he will run for the Republican nomination, most likely unopposed. 

"I think he has been wise to keep a low profile and allow the atmosphere of the Trump administration drift off into the sunset before stepping forward to run," says Harriman. "If he's not, he should make that clear soon so that those who may have an interest in it have time enough to properly prepare."

RELATED: Former Gov. Paul Lepage will wait until fall to announce potential gubernatorial run

Sweet thinks Mills will be a positive alternative to an "extreme'" candidate like LePage, saying, "People are going to judge by what is actually happening. And Maine is at the top of the list in terms of how well we're dealing with COVID ... I think by 2022 we're going to be top of the list in terms of our economy as well."

Political posturing has begun over President Joe Biden's new infrastructure plan, which carries a price tag of over $2-trillion. Opponents say the package contains too much that is not traditional infrastructure.

Harriman says. "When people find out it's going to be for so much more that is unrelated to infrastructure projects, I think the Democrats are going to have a problem."

President Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure plan is getting heat from the GOP for not spending enough on infrastructure, but infrastructure is more than just roads. The Biden Administration has published its infrastructure spending proposal to the public under the name "The American Jobs Plan."

But Sweet points out that things such as broadband internet service and support for critical care workers are now an important part of what we think of as infrastructure.

She says, "This is another 'New Deal' being done, and it's critical."

Political Brew airs Sundays on NEWS CENTER Maine's Weekend Morning Report.