AUGUSTA (AP) — A leading Republican says Maine’s governor is walking back from a proposal to close a minimum-security prison in June.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage proposed shutting down Downeast Correctional Facility to save $5 million annually as part of his two-year, $6.8 billion budget. A legislative panel expressed support for funding the prison months ago, but last week, the LePage administration issued layoff notices to the prison’s roughly 50 staff members.

House Minority Leader Ken Fredette said Thursday that LePage is expected to propose funding Downeast through February.

Fredette said he thinks LePage’s shift follows concerns about timing and LePage’s announcement that he would reduce prisoners’ sentences.

LePage’s office only said next steps will depend on budget negotiations.

The House and Senate support funding the jail for two more years.

Rep. Ken Fredette

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