State lawmakers must override veto to avoid shutdown of Maine government

AUGUSTA — While most won't say it out loud, employees within Maine government were taking steps Monday to close the doors if lawmakers are unable to override Gov. Paul LePage's veto of the state's next budget.

LePage vetoes budget

Scott Thistle/Sun Journal

House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, speaks to a television crew just before Republican Gov. Paul LePage issued his veto message on the state budget Monday. Eves urged his Republican colleagues to stick with their votes in support of the budget when they reconvene Wednesday to take up a veto override vote.

Scott Thistle/Sun Journal

State Rep. Mike Carey, D-Lewiston, a member of the Legislature's budget-writing Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, speaks with reporters following the news that Gov. Paul LePage had vetoed the Legislature's $6.3 billion budget Monday.

LePage vetoed the budget Monday afternoon.

Key agencies that are deemed, "essential," including the Maine State Police and the state's Department of Corrections, have contingency plans in place, officials said last week.

"Every good department has a contingency plan," John Morris, the commissioner for the Department of Public Safety, recently said. Morris declined to say whether a meeting he had midweek with Gov. LePage was to discuss a possible government shutdown. "I'm not going to go there," Morris said.

Department of Corrections spokesman Scott Fish said in an email that the department also had a contingency plan in place.

Morris said he wanted to be careful not to cause unnecessary anxiety and that even talking about being ready could be misread to say that's what the LePage administration wanted, which wasn't the case.

The last time the state actually endured a government shutdown was in 1991.

Then Gov. John McKernan issued an executive order —  just five days before the end of the fiscal year on June 30 — allowing so-called essential personnel, including state police, prison guards and psychiatric hospital employees, to remain on duty, without an actual state budget in place.

Between 2,000 and 3,000 state workers stayed on the job under the emergency order but another 10,000 were ordered to stay home.

McKernan declined a request for an interview on the topic but sources close to LePage have said the men have met and at least casually have discussed the matter.

As of Monday, LePage had not issued any executive orders regarding a shutdown and there was no order pending, according to his public relations staff.

Former lawmakers who were there for the 1991 shutdown said the circumstances this year are similar in some ways but are quite different in others.

One key difference, according to former Rep. Jim Handy, a Lewiston Democrat, is between McKernan and LePage's negotiating styles.

"McKernan was always willing to try to find resolution and common ground without the hyperbole — well what LePage has done has gone well beyond what is fair and decent," Handy said. "I never have seen such disrespect on a personal level coming from a governor."

Handy said that while McKernan took a firm stand on the issue of reforming the state's workers' compensation system, he never broke off completely talks with Democrats around the budget. 

While LePage's staff have continued to deal with Democratic leaders in the Legislature, the governor has had very few meetings with rival lawmakers to try and broker a deal, Democratic leaders said again Monday.

Last week, LePage voiced some frustration over not being able to strike a bargain around so-called "right-to-work" bills and an expansion of Medicaid but much of LePage's statement on the issue was overshadowed by another comment he made regarding state Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. 

LePage has since apologized if the comment offended some but didn't apologize to Jackson.

Just prior to those statements, LePage promised a group of anti-tax activists that he intended to veto the Legislature's budget. 

Press clippings from 1991 show Democrats at the time were equally angry with McKernan, charging him with obstructing the will of a majority of voters as he opposed a $300 million tax increase without concessions for businesses around the workers' compensation issue.  

McKernan, who held his ground, eventually prevailed on the issue but also signed on to the tax increases.

At the time, Senate minority leader Charlie Webster, a Farmington Republican who most recently served as the GOP state chairman, said the issue wasn't about workers and the budget but about taxes and what kind of state Maine would become.

"Maine is among the lowest-paid states, the highest-taxed states and has the third most generous welfare program in the country," Webster told the Maine Times newspaper. "If we don't do something, we are in danger of becoming just a Vacationland serving tourists."

That sentiment is similar to things LePage has said in recent days regarding the current budget. LePage has said his anti-tax increase position is about making Maine more attractive to business investment and about getting the state out of the economic doldrums among states.

Meanwhile Monday,  Ginette Rivard, president of the Maine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989, voiced frustration with LePage for refusing to meet with union negotiators about a potential shutdown until Friday, June 28, the last work day before a potential shutdown would start.

Rivard said in a release issued Monday that a shutdown could impact up to 10,000 workers involving everyone from child protective workers in the Department of Health and Human Services to those in the departments of labor and public safety.

"Our members also have questions about how they would be personally impacted by being locked out of their jobs for an indefinite period of time," Rivard said, urging lawmakers to support a veto override.

The Legislature, which was on recess Monday and Tuesday, is expected to reconvene Wednesday to vote on at least eight vetoes LePage issued last week and to take up the budget veto.

House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, said he intends to take up the budget first thing when the House is set to convene at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

"The first thing we have to do is what is before us right now and stick to the votes we took and override the governor's veto," Eves told reporters. "All-in-all, Wednesday is going to be about everybody sticking to the commitments that they made when they voted on this budget."

If the Legislature is unable to override the veto, they will have just four days to come up with a compromise that LePage will support to avoid a government shutdown.

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

AL PELLETIER's picture

With the stroke of his pen

Lepage has once again demonstrated "it's his way or the highway" even if he has to bring all state services to a screeching halt.
It's time for republicans to get a back bone and demonstrate that the legislature can get something done without fearing the rage of Lepage.

If Lepages veto of the budget

If Lepages veto of the budget stands, the Dems will share in the blame. Blaming it all Lepage for doing his job, is just plain silly.

I disagree. This was a

I disagree. This was a bipartisan budget worked on, vetted, and agreed on by majorities of both parties. It was one of the rarest of animals, a compromise. And it will raise taxes a hell of a lot less than killing revenue sharing would have, because property taxes would be a huge hit, and all at once, not spread out over every purchase and hotel stay. Don't kid yourself that localities "don't have to raise their property taxes". Towns have already been forced to cut and cut to the bone because the State has never met its 55% obligation to fund schools. Getting by without revenue sharing and without raising property taxes is not really a possibility. Not even sure losing half the revenue sharing is going to help, but maybe a little.

But anyway, the point is it was a bipartisan deal with a supposedly veto-proof majority in both houses. So is enough Reps flip-flop and cave to pressure from the Governor's office again to cause it to fail, not sure how you can say its the Dems' fault.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Why is there even an argument????????

Which ever budget you go with, taxes are going up, that's a plain and simple fact. The problem lies in that one budget is legal and one, the temporary one, is not. Pretty cut and dry to me. Our Governor, in his almost pitiful best offer, wants us to give him 60 days to come up with a budget, that has eluded him for six months or more. If LePage doesn't change his priorities, no amount of time will result in a budget compromise.
Short of an override, I don't see any hope of avoiding a State shut down. The damages of a shut down, are astronomical. Who is going to want to come to Maine, if the State has a "CLOSED" sign on the door. LePage doesn't see that, what's wrong with this picture. This man is unfit to be Governor and needs to be replaced. He also shouldn't be allowed free health care for life. Let him go downtown and apply for MaineCare. Then, just like everyone else, get turned down. Hey don't forget, we still have Emergency Rooms. That last part was just a little personal frustration on my part.............

My own livelihood is going to

My own livelihood is going to suffer if the State closes down for even a week. 90% of the printer repair service I do is for the State. That's my job for my company.

It's not just State epmloyees who will suffer. The hundreds of private businesses who do work daily for the State will also suffer. How does this make LePage the business friendly Governor?

Why would tourist stay home

Why would tourist stay home if state government shuts down? Maine wont have a closed sign on the door for tourist entering Maine. Once again a very silly comment.

PAUL MATTSON's picture

(((((HELL NO TO OVERRIDE)))))

(((((HELL NO TO OVERRIDE)))))

Steve  Dosh's picture

State lawmakers must override veto to avoid shutdown of ME G

Mainers, 13.06.24 Monday 17:35
Sequester you governor and al the other ƒoolish republicans . .put them in prison . and wait it out ? /s Steve :D

PHILIP LAINE's picture

Sorry Jim

As you said "The Gov. promised "NO NEW TAXES" and he is true to his word." Guess what HIS budget raises taxes.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/03/05/opinion/actually-lepages-budget-wo...

Steve  Dosh's picture

Phil & Jim , .. and

Phil & Jim , .. and President Reagan oversaw the largest increase in the US federal budget ( in percentage and actual terms ) of any president . e v e r .
They are all bunch of hypocrites , say one thing , do the opposite
Like " Mr. Family Values " Newt Gingrich .
He divorced his wifey to marry is sec'y and was a a meglo-mainiac power hungry guy , also .
Promise breakers , Paul ? hth , Steve

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

They both have a lot in common

Liars.....with delusions of grandeur....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Petition for Resignation

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Still Increasing

Showing 11047 reactions

 's picture

Good petition; too bad he's such a megomanic

He won't listen.

Jim Cyr's picture

We have a

spending problem !! Any new or added taxing will not move us towards prosperity !!
The Gov. promised "NO NEW TAXES" and he is true to his word. You "Progressives" just want to break the bank by pushing for increased taxes instead of "austerity". Augusta and all the locals, we have a spending problem !!

 's picture

No we don't and you know it.

What spending level would you accept. 10% of the current budget; 50%, 75%. Just tell us your specific plan. Don't just keep writing these unfounded, unsupported, generic conclusions based on assumptions only you recognize.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

So if taxing creates

So if taxing creates prosperity, one can then extrapolate that taxing 100% of everyone's income will maximize prosperity.

However, we know that will not work. Taxing does not create any prosperity. It simply moves capital to non-protective tasks.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Mark ? Taxes do not create

Mark ? Taxes do not create prosperity , but they do pick up your garbage , pave and plow your roads , answer your 9.11 calls , put liars and people who commit perjury in jail through the judicial system , help regulate your power, water , telephone , and TV rates so price gouging does not occur, defend you from invading countries and private militias such as . .well . . GB , Mexico and Canada haven't invaded us for a while and the 2nd amendment is just that stupid
Ever heard of ' rule of law? ' ' Protect and serve? ' ' The police , fire and EMS - EMT? ' It's a law that your dumb governor must pass a budget in your state or be thrown in jail ( essential services ) There is no ' get out of jail free ' card either
Now as far as things like the TVA , CCC , the power station on the Androscoggin River in Auburn ( 1 9 2 8 ) the National reconstruction and Recovery Act ( 2 0 0 8 - present , for your rusty bridges , decrepit roads and schools ) and other make work projects ? Try to not benefit from them and not use them , please , for Pete's sake
hth ? /s Steve :D

MARK GRAVEL's picture

That list gives the

That list gives the appearance that the government is over reaching. Budget deficits seem to confirm my assertion.

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

Tax shift

All the governor's "budget" would do is shift the burden to the property taxpayer. The bumper sticker response of cutting programs and services at the local level sounds good but won't fly anymore. The wings of that chicken haven't just been clipped, they've been removed, plucked, marinated and grilled. There are no more programs to cut.

I'm sure each individual can find things they don't use and are willing to cut, like schools if they have no kids. Imagine an illiterate society and then think of your job. Unless you gather roots and nuts for a living, someone somewhere must be a reader for your job to exist.

The myth that there are huge savings by eliminating police is just that - a myth. The sheriff don't work for freee folks and the duty deputy might be in Eustis when you need him or her in Jay.

Taxes are going up. Better some of the burden is paid by our tourists, the way NH does it. LePage's problem all along has been that he deals in sound bytes - not reality. Sounds easy, won't work.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Lepage useless and lame beast;

He acts and governs like a horsesass, and is lame. It will not be long before he gets euthanized like the lame mulehead that he is and deserves. He is not worth making glue out of.

Maine should be demanding his resignation for his failure sitting in a seat that should've never gone to him.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

A compromise

The legislature does not need to work really hard to find a compromise budget that Lepage will support because there is no such thing. His take no prisoners approach to governing has gotten us to the point where he is going to break the government if he can't get to be king. It may just be that we need to let him or learn to live with a tyrant.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

LePage need to go...............

If this isn't proof enough that Paul LePage has absolutely no ability to serve as Governor, I don't know what would be a more persuasive argument to replace him. This man has done everything in his power to embarrass the citizens of this State. He has blocked efforts to supply health coverage to untold thousands of individuals, and has gone out of his way to make those already receiving help, less likely to receive more. He cut revenue sharing to cities and towns, thus forcing huge property tax increases he claims are minimal. While at the same time vetoing a budget approved bilaterally on both sides of the isle, because he feels a temporary tax increase would be detrimental to the people.
The most detrimental thing to the people of Maine is Paul LePage. As long as he's allowed to continue his reign of stupidity and illogical behavior, this State is doomed. I for one,can't wait to wake up from this nightmare and have some sort of future to actually look forward to.....

MARK GRAVEL's picture

There is nothing more

There is nothing more detrimental to the people of Maine than more taxes....

Richard Greene's picture

"There is nothing more By

"There is nothing more
By Mark Gravel, verified user — Mon, 06/24/2013 - 22:38

There is nothing more detrimental to the people of Maine than more taxes."

Except perhaps having no roads to travel on, no education system, no military to protect us, no police, no fire departments. No one likes taxes but we seem to forget that they pay for things our communities need.

The Governor's budget is a shell game. He simply wants to pass huge tax increases to property tax payers who are the least able to afford them. I'm glad so many are seeing through that.

 's picture

There are some people for whom no level of taxation

is acceptable. We need to stop accepting their comments as valid and demand that they give us specific plans for how they would advance their goals. They can't of course because their goals hurt 90% of Mainers so they have to hurl sound bites or meaningless generalities.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

P.S. Maine should have voted

P.S. Maine should have voted for property tax caps when they had a chance, then perhaps we would not be having this discussion.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

That is certainly one

That is certainly one perspective, especially if the modus operandi is always tax 10% of the people.

Another perspective is to broaden the tax base and allow everyone to have skin in game. Another benefit is that people will be more likely to get involved with budget and spending decisions since it impacts them directly.

Notice that there is nothing in this comment that remotely indicates what constitutes an acceptable level of taxation. It has more to do with fairness.

You play, you pay!

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I actually think shifting the

I actually think shifting the tax burden is a good thing. Why? Because the cost of services that people clamor for are felt by all, not just the people now pay the brunt of the taxes - the so-called rich.

We can say if you want XYZ service, then your taxes will go up, say, $120 a year – now do you really want that service? Spending become self-limiting.

Richard Greene's picture

The cost of services will be

The cost of services will be felt by property owners, which are not all. We have a big tourism industry in Maine and tourist use our roads, police, state funded parks and other services. They should help pay for those things.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

All residents pay property

All residents pay property tax directly or indirectly (i.e. rent).

Tourist bring money into the state. They stay in hotels, which pay property taxes. They purchase goods and pay sales tax. They buy gas and pay gas tax. It is this gas tax that funds roads - or should. The fractional services that tourist consume are funded through all the other taxes and fees tourist pay.

Hence, tourist do help pay for those services.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

You put that nicely..............

Now, answer one question, why did LePage veto a budget that would have earned more off the tourist industry? Answer: He's an idiot..................

Typical liberal comment screw

Typical liberal comment screw the tourist coming to Maine, when tourism is what keeps this state going.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Spending to a liberal is like

Spending to a liberal is like crack to a drug addict.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

To Dennis and Mark.........

I would love to hear your ideas on how the Governor can hammer out a new budget in time to avoid a State Shut down, and just remember, it has to be legal, contrary to his last short term idea.................

Thats what we pay our Gov and

Thats what we pay our Gov and Legislators to do, solve these issues. I don't like paying them, to make me pay more in taxes, and thats always the answer for the Democrats, instead of making hard the choices.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Government shutdown is not

Government shutdown is not really a bad than you would think. I lived through three state government shutdowns in my life; Life goes on.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Neither one let me down..........

Just the type of answers I was expecting..............

MARK GRAVEL's picture

So what you are saying is

So what you are saying is that I communicate a consistent message. You are welcome.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

So what you are saying is

So what you are saying is that communicate a consistent message. You are welcome.

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