AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday will present to the Legislature a state spending blueprint for the next two-year budget cycle, and it is expected to reflect the austerity of the times and the governor’s promises not to raise taxes.

The Republican governor will present his budget for the period starting July 1 to a joint House-Senate session. Because Maine’s constitution requires the budget to be balanced, it will have to close what state fiscal officials estimate is an $800 million gap between existing state services and available revenues to pay for them.

LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said the budget won’t include tax increases.

“There are some bright spots, but there is going to be some shared sacrifice,” she said Tuesday.

The current budget ended up at about $5.5 billion after lawmakers trimmed it to reflect revenue shortfalls resulting largely from the recession. It also was smaller than the state’s previous two-year budget.

While the focus turns to the budget for fiscal 2012-13, lawmakers on Tuesday finished up work on a package of revisions in the current budget that only begin to show the new administration’s fingerprints on state policy. For example, it accelerates repayment of the state’s Medicaid debt to hospitals, as LePage promised during the fall campaign, and conforms to state and federal tax provisions to ease filing and save the state from reprinting tax forms.

The budget revision package won unanimous, bipartisan support of the Appropriations Committee and moved swiftly Tuesday through the House and Senate. House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, encouraged majority Republicans to give it their unanimous support and deliver to the governor a victory on “his first shot out of the cannon.”

LePage signed the supplemental budget bill Tuesday evening. But the big test is still to come when he presents the full two-year budget.


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