Democrats in Maine Legislature He pushed nearly $10 billion out of the state budget for two years that prevents any government shutdowns, but has angered Republicans and practically underscores partisan grudges going forward.
House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross repeatedly advised Republicans not to impugn Democrats, who control both houses of the legislature, during an emotional debate ahead of the first budget vote Thursday night. The Senate followed suit in approving the budget on the basis of party votes.
The strategy of basing the primary budget on a simple majority vote early in the legislative session prevents Republicans from using the threat of a state government shutdown as an 11-hour negotiating tactic.
Democrats said approving the budget with no new programs preserves Republicans’ negotiating leverage for additional spending proposals to be considered later in a supplemental budget. But this did not mitigate the discontent of the Republicans, who were excluded from the process after the negotiations collapsed.
Sen. Trey Stewart, the chamber’s Republican leader, said Democrats “simply have no interest in allowing the minority party to have any meaningful seat at the negotiating table.”
“This is the tyranny of the majority,” said Rep. Laurel Libby of Auburn, one of more than a dozen House Republicans who stood up to criticize the budget proposal on a variety of grounds Thursday night.
The Democratic gambit demanded that lawmakers delay to allow the budget to go into effect 90 days later, on July 1, without the approval of a two-thirds majority. Then lawmakers meet again to deal with the hundreds of pending bills, as well as the supplemental budget with any new spending initiatives.
Budget submission from majority of Democrats It will continue to fund 55% of public education costs, universal free school meals, and share revenue with municipalities, among other things. But it doesn’t include any new programs — not even programs supported by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.
Republicans criticized the Democrats for not considering their proposal to cut income taxes for low- and middle-income state residents. Before the measure was passed, the legislature ignored GOP proposals to replace the word “holiday land” with “Taxationland” on state license plates.
Democrats and their allies said the early vote ensures government can continue operations and provides an opportunity for both parties to work on a supplemental budget to address additional proposals later.
Democratic Sen. Jill Dawson of Portland said it makes sense to return to the two-part budget. “This approach ensures that the state can prioritize ongoing commitments before taking new initiatives,” she said.
The process mirrors 2021, when Democrats passed a majority budget over Republican objections. A bipartisan review was subsequently adopted.
If lawmakers wait until later in the session to approve the budget, a two-thirds majority will be needed for the provisions to take effect in time for the new fiscal year.
in 2017, Republican House Allied with then-Republican governor Paul Lepage, he torpedoed a compromise budget, resulting in a partial state government shutdown that lasted for several days. Hectic negotiations led to a new spending bill that removes the two-thirds threshold.