Heavy-handed approach runs counter to 20+ years of established budget precedent
STATE HOUSE – Legislative Republicans held a press conference in Augusta today to call attention to Democrat plans to invoke a little known budget gimmick that will effectively end the bipartisan work that produced a Supplemental Budget that passed overwhelmingly in the Senate and 139-1 in the House earlier this month.
Democrats will pass the so-called “Majority Budget” on March 30; carry over any unfinished legislation, then shutdown the Legislature by Adjourning. With a complicit Governor Mills, the Legislature will be summoned back, at-a-later-date, to resume spending when revenue forecasts are updated and federal money flow into Maine.
“This is a sad day for Maine and unfair to over 400 towns and cities represented by Republicans, who are now shut out of the budget process,”“said Senate Republican Leader Jeff Timberlake (R-Androscoggin). “After clearly demonstrating that both parties can constructively work together in the midst of a pandemic, Democrats are resorting to the nuclear option, a party-line budget. Democrats have raised the mythical idea that Republicans want to shut down the government. So, instead, they will shut down the government today, using this fantasy to justify passing a highly partisan budget with a simple majority of votes.”
“Republicans recently proposed extending the $10,200 income tax exemption to all working Mainers,” said House Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham (R-Oxford). “This is how Democrats chose to respond, by destroying the bipartisan cooperation that has characterized this session and is what most Mainers want. They are also using this so-called emergency budget to pass at least one tax increase, a tax on online streaming. It is hard to know what else is included in the one-page proposal they provided.”
“Democrats want to push forward without hearing back from committees in each subject area, and without waiting for the latest and very important revenue forecast due in late April,” said Sen. Paul Davis (R-Piscataquis). “They propose to craft a huge spending package—the largest budget in Maine history—without engaging in the deliberate, line-by-line work that usually results in biennial budgets.”
“Nothing in their one page “budget” proposal constitutes an emergency needing action in one week,” said House Republican Lead Rep. Sawin Millett (R-Waterford). “We are expecting to hear from the Consensus Forecasting Commission, in the next week or so, and the Revenue Forecasting Committee by the end of April. Why can’t we wait until they do their work? We are awaiting details on the American Rescue Plan (federal relief funds), why can’t we wait until we have details on amounts and how those funds can be used?