- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

12:35 a.m. (EDT)

Maine lawmakers have sent a two-year, $6.7 billion budget plan to Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

The Democratic-controlled House voted 105-42 to give the bill final approval just after midnight on Wednesday. The Republican-led Senate followed with a 31-4 vote.

The budget is the result of weeks of intense, closed-door negotiations between legislative leaders. House Republicans insisted that the final spending plan include income tax cuts and welfare reform. At the same time, Democrats were reluctant to give tax cuts to the highest earners.

The spending plan would slash income taxes across all income levels, keep the sales tax at 5.5 percent and increase funding for K-12 schools by $80 million over the biennium. It also maintains state aid for cities and towns at roughly $62.5 million annually, eliminates the tax on military pensions and doubles the $10,000 homestead property tax credit.

LePage will have 10 days to sign the budget, let it become law without his signature or veto it.

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11:00 p.m. (EDT)

The Republican-controlled Maine Senate has given initial approval to a two year, $6.7 billion budget agreement that cuts income taxes, boosts property tax relief and increases funding for schools.

The Senate voted 34-1 In favor of the spending plan on Tuesday. The Democratic-controlled House supported the bill with a 101-47 vote earlier in the day. It faces final votes in both chambers before heading to Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

The spending plan would slash income taxes for all earners, keep the sales tax at 5.5 percent and increase funding for K-12 schools by $80 million over the biennium. It also maintains state aid for cities and towns at roughly $62.5 million annually, eliminates the tax on military pensions and doubles the $10,000 homestead property tax credit.

The Senate stripped the bill of an amendment added in the House that sought to ensure that people seeking asylum in Maine could receive municipal welfare benefits.

LePage will have 10 days to sign the budget, let it become law without his signature or veto it. A budget must be in place by June 30 to prevent a government shutdown.

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5:40 p.m. (EDT)

The Maine House has given initial approval to a $6.7 billion budget agreement that will ensure state government stays open at the end of the month.

The Democratic-led House voted 101-47 to give initial approval to the spending plan on Tuesday. It unanimously approved a compromise amendment crafted by legislative leaders that includes income tax cuts and significant changes to welfare. Another amendment approved Tuesday would ensure that asylum seekers receive municipal welfare benefits.

The spending plan faces further votes in both the House and the Senate.

House Democratic Leader Jeff McCabe said that the budget is a “true compromise” and an example of how divided government can work.

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5:20 p.m. (EDT)

The Maine House of Representatives has approved an effort to ensure that people seeking asylum can receive municipal welfare benefits.

The House voted 83-66 to attach the amendment to the $6.7 billion state budget proposal on Tuesday. The House has not voted on the final amended budget.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage directed cities and towns last year to stop providing general assistance to certain immigrants, including those who came to the United States illegally and asylum seekers. A court ruled last week his administration doesn’t have to reimburse towns for aid provided to those groups.

Democrats say asylum seekers shouldn’t be lumped into the same group as those who entered the U.S. illegally. Asylum seekers are in the country lawfully but often have to wait months until they’re authorized to work.

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