Maine's unnecessary government shutdown can end with compromise, not extortion

A view of the New Jersey State House the area's capitol building

They compromised on the $300 million in additional education funding, settling for about half as much by agreeing to a Senate Republican plan to generate additional revenue by raising the state's lodging tax, which was a compromise from GOP members who generally oppose tax increases. Paul LePage (R) introduced his own spending plan that legislators had not seen just hours before the end of the fiscal year.

"It means I struggle to pay my bills", said state worker Rebecca Burns, one of several protesters lining state house hallways Friday morning.

The budget proposal achieves Republicans' priority of removing the voter-approved 3 percent income surtax on high earners to fund schools, estimated to bring in $320 billion for schools. While negotiations continued and lawmakers planned to meet over the weekend, the failure marked a continuation of the unprecedented impasse that's left IL without a full-year budget since mid-2015.

House Speaker Sara Gideon said she and fellow Democrats will continue to seek common ground with their Republicans colleagues in the House, even if the Governor won't join in their discussions.

"If the legislature fails to send a balanced budget package to my desk by Friday, we will have no choice but to keep them in session until they get the job done", Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner wrote in a Facebook post dated Friday.

In between the feuding lawmakers, hundreds of protesters who had abruptly found themselves without paychecks coming gathered at the State House to protest the shutdown.

But the governor has said that's not enough.

The exact substance of the governor's budget alternative was unknown late Friday.

A six-member bipartisan budget committee with lawmakers from the House and Senate had reached a deal on a proposed budget late on Thursday night, but LePage signaled he would veto the package because it included some tax increases.

"These are not huge items", Fredette said Saturday.

The government will partially shut down at midnight if there is no budget in place. On a radio show, he said that a shutdown would be "necessary for the future of ME".

The state's government shutdown is "for the first time in more than a quarter-century Saturday", according to a report in the Portland Press Herald.

This year, revenues are healthy, with unemployment at a historic low.

The governor said his administration was taking steps to protect health and safety.

And the AP adds: "Remaining open under the shutdown will be New Jersey Transit, state prisons, the state police, state hospitals and treatment centers as well as casinos, race tracks and the lottery".

Additionally, she said, 167 state-funded construction projects are now on hold, and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles is shut down so no one can register their auto or get a license.


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