Applauding the bipartisan effort on state budget

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Partisan ill will bordering on hatred seems to be the order of the day on the national political stage.

That’s why Mainers should be proud of the very difficult work done by Republican and Democratic legislators on the Appropriations Committee to produce a unanimous budget proposal weeks before the normal end of the legislative session.

The committee initially faced a budget gap of $438 million. Through the long months of negotiations and hearings, additional federal money and an improving economy reduced that to a $310 million hole, still large by any standard.

But the committee worked in a bipartisan fashion to produce a budget that did not increase taxes and evenly spread the pain of declining state revenues.

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The final proposal is 12 percent less than the last biennial budget, and cuts $800 from the prior spending plan.

Still, there is no denying the pain that lies ahead for state agencies, school boards and municipal governments as they weigh either raising taxes or cutting services.

It is difficult enough to sit in Augusta and make broad decisions about where funding cuts will occur.

But it is another matter entirely to actually cut teachers or firefighters from the payroll, or to combine classes or close neighborhood school buildings.

Those extremely difficult decisions will be made at the local level, and we urge citizens to get involved in the process.

For years, many Mainers have campaigned for less government spending. Now that major governmental cuts have been forced upon the state, we hope those citizens will help make the tough choices that now must be made.

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