AUGUSTA — In the wee hours of Independence Day, Maine’s government shutdown ended, after lawmakers and Gov. Paul LePage reached a budget compromise that none of them liked but all of them could live with.

The $7.1 billion spending plan wiped out the voter-approved surtax on high earners but still delivered an additional $162 million for education while barely raising taxes.

LePage, who signed the measure, said the state “will reopen and resume normal operations” after having closed its doors, but not its parks, for three days after failing to deliver a budget on time.

“We got it,” said Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport, the House GOP leader. “Gov. LePage’s signature ended the shutdown and House Republicans held together to get this done for the people of Maine.”

“This unnecessary shutdown needed to come to an end,” House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Brunswick, said.

With the removal of an increase in the lodging tax paid mostly by out-of-state tourists — and initially sought by LePage — lawmakers had little hesitation about backing the budget deal early Tuesday. Every senator voted for it while the House approved it 147-2.


“In divided government we all have to compromise but the final deal was true to our values and aspirations for a better Maine,” Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, said.

“This budget makes the single largest investment in our children’s future success that I’ve seen in my time in the Legislature,” Rep. Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, said.

“While it doesn’t include everything I hoped for, the budget reflects the commitment I made from day one to the people of Lewiston to increase the state’s share of education funding so our property taxpayers can stop footing the bill,” Golden said.

Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, who had been the only senator to vote against the budget deal, said he backed the compromise Tuesday after leaders agreed to kill the proposal to raise the lodging tax from 9 percent to 10.5 percent.

Brakey said that in exchange for killing the tax increase, Republicans agreed to a two-year freeze on proposed rate decreases for providers by the Department of Health and Human Services and to provide $575,000 in each of the next two years for Head Start.

LePage said legislators did “the right thing by passing a budget that does not increase taxes on the Maine people.”


“I especially thank the House Republicans for standing strong throughout these very tough budget negotiations to protect Mainers from an unnecessary tax hike,” the governor said.

“House Republicans never wavered and stood resolute in our commitment to get a budget done and end this shutdown,” Rep. Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester, said.

“Democrats negotiated the best possible deal for Mainers,” Gideon said. “We pledged to be the voice of the people in this budget debate and we never stopped fighting.”

“Despite House Republicans throwing up roadblocks at every turn, we were able to close a budget that makes the largest investment in public education in our state’s history,” she said.

In addition, Gideon said, the spending plan “protects Maine’s most vulnerable from devastating service cuts, invests in those that care for our seniors and Mainers with disabilities, helps fight increasing property taxes and makes a significant investment in workforce development.”

Gov. Paul LePage signs a $7.1 billion budget after midnight Tuesday, July 4, 2017, in a photo tweeted out by the governor’s Twitter account. That ends three full days of the Maine government shutdown. Republican legislators are surrounding LePage and applauding.

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