AUGUSTA — A bill to make technical corrections to the controversial $6.3 billion biennial budget bill passed late last month failed by several votes in the House on Tuesday. Defeat of the bill could cause a $6 million budget gap over the biennium if the Senate follows suit.

LD 1572 makes several corrections to the budget bill, but according to Republicans who banded mostly together against the bill, a provision involving a temporary increase in the sales tax from 5 percent to 5.5 percent motivated their opposition. The correction in the bill made it clear that the sales tax increase was meant to apply only items that are currently subject to the sales tax.

“This vote indicated that there are serious concerns within the Republican caucus about this bill,” said House Republican Leader Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport.

House Majority Leader Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, said he was disappointed with the 92-50 vote, which fell short of the two-thirds required to pass the emergency measure.

“We saw people back off of commitments they made previously,” said Berry. “This will have an impact on the budget and create a problem for Maine Revenue Services.”

Assistant House Minority Leader Alexander Willette, R-Mapleton, said there is hope among Republicans that improving state revenues will cover the revenue gap.

The measure now heads to the Senate. If the bill garners two-thirds approval there, it could return to the House later Tuesday for another attempt at passage. However, achieving the necessary two-thirds vote will be made more difficult because two Senate Democrats are absent on Tuesday, according to a spokeswoman for Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland.


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