- Associated Press - Friday, June 19, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s effort to strike out $60 million in state spending failed Friday when the Senate - controlled by members of his own party - easily overrode each of his 64 line-item vetoes.

The Senate rejected LePage’s attempt to cut funding in the $6.7 billion proposed budget for education, special drug treatment courts, health centers and job training programs. The move keeps intact a budget that will cut taxes for nearly 600,000 families, pump $80 million more into K-12 schools and eliminate the tax on pensions for retired military servicemen and women.

Senate President Mike Thibodeau said he felt obligated to stand by the budget deal he reached with Democrats and House Republicans earlier this week, despite the governor’s objections.

“It would be like going to the car dealer and paying $20,000 for a new car and showing up next morning to pick it up and the tail lights being missing,” Thibodeau said. “We shook hands on a deal that was the total package, and I felt obligated to support that package and I think many of our members viewed it in the same way.”

But the debate over the spending plan is not over. LePage is expected to veto the budget in its entirety, and he has until June 29 to do so. That would force lawmakers to return on June 30 to override the governor’s veto - which will require two-thirds support in each chamber - just hours before the July 1 deadline.

Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond said he’s confident that the budget will survive another veto in time to prevent a government shutdown.

“It was a 31-4 vote on the big budget and you saw a commitment on all the line-item vetoes,” Alfond said. “And I think we’ll have a budget on June 30 if he vetoes it.”

LePage accused lawmakers of filling the budget with pet “piggy projects” and had used his line-item veto authority to try to cut $30 million from K-12 schools, $1 million from 19 health centers across the state, $650,000 for drug courts, $400,000 for Head Start programs and $55,000 for Meals on Wheels, among other things.

“Mainers want a budget that can be used as a blueprint for prosperity for our great state,” LePage said in his veto message. “Instead, legislators delayed for five months, then presented a business-as-usual budget patched together at the last minute,” he said.

LePage’s veto spree has frustrated many lawmakers who had already hoped to be home for the summer by now. The Legislature had planned to finish sorting through all the bills left in play by Friday, but the vetoes have pushed their work into next week.

Any additional week the Legislature is in session will cost taxpayers roughly $100,000.

___

Follow Alanna Durkin at http://www.twitter.com/aedurkin

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide