AUGUSTA (AP) — Maine budget negotiators have failed to reach a compromise, and Gov. Paul LePage is urging Republicans to hold out for a better deal.

The Republican governor said Thursday lawmakers were using the specter of a state government shutdown “to pass an irresponsible budget that increases taxes and increases spending.”

Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon blamed House Republicans for refusing to participate in negotiating on a compromise over a voter-approved tax increase on wealthy Mainers aimed to boosting education spending.

LePage praised House Republicans for standing fast as a “gang of six” tries to broker a deal.

It’s crunch time for lawmakers. The deadline is Friday for a budget if LePage is to get 10 days to review it before the fiscal year ends.

The main issue continues to be the surtax on income above $200,000 that would bring in an estimated $320 million in funding for K-12 public schools.

House Republicans are still demanding a repeal of the surtax and a smaller increase in education funding. Senate Republican President Mike Thibodeau, Republican Sen. Roger Katz, Gideon and Democratic Sen. Cathy Breen say they’re closer to a compromise with a bigger increase in school funding.

Republicans also are pushing for a slimmer spending plan.

Republican Rep. Tom Winsor said that House Republicans think that the state should be able to run on less than $7 billion — a benchmark the governor himself recently endorsed. That is roughly in line with LePage, who proposed a $6.8 billion, two-year budget in January. Democrats are calling for more spending, though they have been vague on the details.

Maine State House is the state capitol of the State of Maine in Augusta, Maine, USA.
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Maine State House is the state capitol of the State of Maine in Augusta, Maine, USA.

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