Maine House, Senate set to vote on deal Monday

AUGUSTA – Late Sunday evening, two days into a government shutdown, Democratic and Republican legislative leaders announced a bipartisan budget agreement. The six-member Committee of Conference voted (5-1) to advance the deal. The House Republican caucus member of the committee, Rep. Tom Winsor, voted against the proposal.

Members of the committee were considering the latest list of initiatives from the House Republican caucus. The major changes to the original compromise proposal were:
A delay of the increase in the lodging tax to November 1, 2017.
A directive to the legislature to perform a study on property tax payments made by conserved lands.
A restoration of the school regionalization funding.

Democrats also proposed language to ensure that state employees, classified as essential or nonessential, receive pay during the shutdown. As a result of the original work of the Committee of Conference, the $7.1 billion dollar budget proposal includes $162 million in direct classroom education funds, the largest investment in public education in Maine’s history. The full legislature will vote on the proposal on Monday.

Speaker of the House Sara Gideon released the following statement:
“Again, members of the committee came together, put aside their differences and voted out a bipartisan budget compromise. In the midst of this unnecessary government shutdown, we did the hard work to craft a budget for the people of Maine. Tomorrow, this bipartisan budget will go to the floor for a vote and yet again, House Republicans have a choice. Do they support this proposal or do they want to continue this shutdown? I urge all members of the legislature to support this budget.”

Sen. Cathy Breen, Democratic Senate representative on the Committee of Conference member released the following statement:
“We never should have gotten to this point, and those who brought us into this shutdown bear an immense responsibility to help us end it. Once again, we have a budget that will hit the floor after thorough and tough negotiations between all four caucuses. I hope that this time, House Republicans will do the right thing and send it to Gov. Paul LePage’s desk.”