AUGUSTA (AP) – As budget talks continued away from the State House over the weekend, Monday was shaping up as a make it or break it day on the floor of the Maine Senate and House of Representatives.

“It looks as if tomorrow is a deadline,” Senate President Beth Edmonds said Sunday in e brief telephone interview from her home.

The Freeport Democrat said lawmakers were still exploring ways to address budget-balancing concerns raised in the Senate and House of Representatives as well as by Democratic Gov. John Baldacci.

“We’re trying to figure out if there is another solution that is possible,” Edmond said.

Baldacci aide Ryan Low, who met at the State House with other administration officials and staff on Saturday, said Sunday the governor’s office had made available to lawmakers some material that might help decision-making and was still standing by.

Baldacci and the Legislature are trying to come up with a way to cover a $190 million revenue shortfall in Maine’s $6.3 billion General Fund budget.

Short of winning two-thirds majorities in both chambers, which would allow program reductions to take effect right away, lawmakers have to act before Tuesday to ensure a revised state spending plan is in place by June 30 – the last day of the current fiscal year.

On Friday after majority Democrats in the House stood firmly behind their version of a budget-balancing plan, Democratic leaders of the more narrowly divided Senate called off further floor action until Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Elizabeth Mitchell, D-Vassalboro, said most Democrats would have preferred to back off and go along with the House but that there were not enough votes to do so.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle appear willing to accept a $34.1 million reduction in state aid to local schools advanced by Baldacci.

But Baldacci has balked at a hospital tax-and-match provision advanced by Democrats and Republicans have opposed a Democratic plan to raise $9 million through the expedited sale of unclaimed property.

Administration officials have said that if no revised spending plan is enacted by the end of Monday the governor will be forced to act unilaterally to slow the rate of state spending.

The officials said limitations on gubernatorial discretion mean that spending curtailments directed by the governor would be less targeted than what could be written into a new law and would fall more heavily in some areas than many lawmakers would like.

AP-ES-03-30-08 1423EDT

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