Maine budget bill gets final approval

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Despite a threat from Gov. Paul LePage that he wouldn't sign a supplemental spending bill, Maine lawmakers on Friday gave final approval to the measure aimed at balancing the two-year $6 billion budget that ends in mid-2013.

The Maine Senate emphatically gave its final approval with a 35-0 vote that sent the bill to the governor's desk. The measure also had a veto-proof majority in the House, where it passed 105-30 on Friday.

"Thirty-five-to-nothing in the Senate is quite a statement. We really worked on it, on both sides of the aisle," said Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney, R-Springvale.

LePage contended the bipartisan agreement didn't go far enough to cut General Assistance funds to municipalities. The governor had proposed cutting General Assistance reimbursements to towns to 50 percent in the original bill. The amended version brings the reimbursement rate down from 90 to 85 percent.

The budget also restores funding to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, which LePage wanted to cut, and avoids cuts in higher education and the Fund for a Healthy Maine, which disburses tobacco-settlement money for health programs.

"We did what the people of Maine expected. We removed the politics and ideology and passed a reasonable budget," said Sen. Dawn Hill, D-York, who serves on the Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, the House Democratic leader, described it as a "responsible agreement that rejects the most harmful proposals in the governor's budget."

After Friday, lawmakers were expected to take a few weeks off before returning in May to complete budget work for the next two-year budget cycle and to close the legislative session.

In the next budget, lawmakers will be asked to close a multimillion-dollar shortfall in the budget for the Department of Health and Human Services. During their hiatus, legislative committees will discuss the cuts and revenue forecasters will attempt to fine tune their projections.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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Comments

JOHN PAINTER's picture

Medicaid fraud and the Maine tax payer

While I continue to have concerns with the Governors communication style, he correctly interprets and vetos line 0105 in LD1903.

This is the line which reads "Adjusts funding to reflect correct reimbursements to Riverview Psychiatric Center and Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center from MaineCare" which is clearly illegal under federal Social Security law which Medicaid falls under; Sec. 1923. 42 U.S.C. 1396r–4.

It remains unclear to me why the Maine Legislature considers itself above federal law and approved a budget which clearly violates the Social Security Act. This is nothing new, and should be understandable to those Legislators with human services backgrounds.

I appreciate the tremendous work efforts of both houses of our Legislature, and all our local Legislators, I fully appreciate the huge challenges they have before them, none the less I expect these fairly straight forward things like following federal statute. More so, I expect Maine tax payers and those who rely on MaineCare for life sustaining supports that this problem is addressed quickly.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

It seems to me

Since the budget was passed by a veto proof majority, this veto by the governor seems pretty pointless unless the point was to give the legislature the back of his hand. Perhaps he thinks they deserve to have their vacation plans messed up a little as a punishment for not supporting his ideology. If that is so he is punishing both sides and he may get some payback next time around where he doesn't expect it. Not too smart it seems to me.

 's picture

How can LePage threaten like

How can LePage threaten like that and it be legal??? We elected these representatives to support us, the people...and LePage thinks he can just
threaten them into doing what HE wants?? Again...is this legal??? I am so glad I didn't vote for him.

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