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.