- Associated Press - Thursday, June 29, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - The Latest on Maine budget negotiations (all times local):

9:45 p.m.

A group of six Maine lawmakers has voted 5-1 to send a $7.1 billion, two-year budget proposal to the House and Senate.

Lawmakers have been at an impasse on the budget for weeks over disagreements concerning education funding and policy.

Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon and Republican Senate President Michael Thibodeau gave the task of hashing out a budget deal to the six-member committee after the Legislature’s 13-member appropriations committee couldn’t come up a united deal.

Republican Rep. Tom Winsor says he voted against the proposal because he didn’t have time to review it with his caucus.

Democratic Sen. Cathy Breen voted for the deal to prevent a government shutdown, but also criticized the anti-transparent nature of recent budget deal-making.

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3:30 p.m.

Attorneys for the Maine State Employees Association say Maine will face millions of dollars in legal damages if the state fails to pay employees on time.

Portland attorneys Jeff Young and Max Brooks say that the state has a July 5 deadline to pay the union’s 3,200 members for work from June 12 through June 23.

The attorneys said employees don’t want to bring a lawsuit just to get paid.

The union recently gathered crowds of state employees to urge lawmakers to pass a budget with a deadline of midnight Friday.

The attorneys say the state could face up to $2.3 million damages if it misses the July 5 deadline, and another $1.6 million for a July 12 deadline.

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1:30 p.m.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s administration is beginning to say which state services will stay open during the possible government shutdown starting Saturday.

LePage blames Democrats for refusing to budge. His declaration of civil emergency runs through Sunday and could be renewed Monday.

All correctional facilities, state psychiatric hospitals and state parks will stay open. Law enforcement and first responders will stay on, including marine patrol, the warden service and the fire marshal.

State revenue, administrative and financial offices will remain open, with limited operations in the state’s information technology office.

LePage’s office also said that the state ferry service serving island communities will remain open.

At least one courthouse in each county will be open to the public with limited services. Only certain criminal, civil and family matters will be heard, including protection from abuse hearings.

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12:40 p.m.

A federal lawsuit aims to ensure that the state continues paying benefits to poor Mainers even if the state government shuts down.

The request for a temporary restraining order was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court. It indicates the plaintiffs will suffer immediate harm if payments are cut off.

A budget must be approved by the Maine Legislature and signed by Gov. Paul LePage by late Friday to avoid a shutdown. So far, no floor votes are schedule.

The lawsuit was filed by Maine Equal Justice Partners.

On Wednesday, lawmakers were optimistic of avoiding a shutdown. But Republican Gov. Paul LePage said Thursday that a government shutdown is “necessary for the future of Maine.”

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12:20 p.m.

Maine lawmakers have voted to extend the legislative session for five more days to give themselves more time to hash out a budget deal.

The Senate on Thursday voted 33-0 to approve the extension.

It was a 131-8 vote in the House, where a few lawmakers chided their colleagues for making the state face what would be its first shutdown since 1991.

Republicans and Democrats in Maine have scrapped over the budget for weeks, with much of the discord involving funding for education.

Republican Rep. Mark Hanington said he supports the extension but said it’s “very irresponsible to get to the place where we are today.”

The days don’t need to be used consecutively.

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9:44 a.m.

Maine’s Republican Gov. Paul LePage says a government shutdown is “necessary for the future of Maine.”

House Republicans are reviewing a two-year, $7.1 billion budget proposal offered by the Republicans in the Senate. Republicans and Democrats in Maine have scrapped over the budget for weeks, with much of the discord involving funding for education.

The state has until the end of the day on Friday to approve a budget. LePage said on a radio appearance on WGAN-AM on Thursday that if he is presented with a budget that raises taxes without reducing income taxes, the state should be “ready for a shutdown.”

The latest budget proposal includes a provision that the state’s tax on lodging would be increased from 9 percent to 10 percent in October to help pay for additional education funding.

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