Maine Governor Says Government Shutdown Is 'Necessary For The Future'

Marcus Newton
July 3, 2017

Maine's government has partially shut down after the governor and lawmakers failed to agree on a state budget.

It's unclear what this new last-minute budget might include. Non-essential state workers will stay home, and most government buildings will not open until deals are reached.

Speaking during a Thursday-night budget committee meeting, state Sen.

Lawmakers plan to put the deal up for a vote Friday, but it is unclear whether the compromise will satisfy the broader legislature or Gov. Paul LePage, who has begun preparations for the state's first government stoppage since 1991.

LePage, a Republican, has for years been in conflict with lawmakers he calls too beholden to special interest groups and over-spending.

In the 2006 shutdown, 45,000 state workers were affected, but after that budget impasse was resolved, they received back pay.

Senate President Michael Thibodeau said while the deal is not flawless for both Democrats and Republicans, he is hopeful it is good enough to pass the legislature. The broader legislature could vote at some point Friday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the speaker said.

Earlier this week, LePage said he wouldn't sign a budget that was higher than $7 billion. The Maine people are taxed enough.

"If they put a tax increase - ready for a shutdown, end of story", the governor said in his weekly radio appearance on WGAN.

A six-member committee working on the budget voted 5-1 Thursday night to advance the new proposal.

"I am angered and deeply saddened by the failure of the legislature to pass a budget", Gideon said in her own statement. But Republican Gov. Paul LePage said Thursday that a government shutdown is "necessary for the future of ME". "And make no mistake I will continue to do everything in my power to end it".

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Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop posted on Facebook that Fourth of July festivities that were previously set to take place at the park will be moved to Exchange Place, a financial district that also overlooks parts of New York City. "ME has plenty of revenue to fund state government without raising taxes". State law requires a new budget by June 30.

"This was completely avoidable".

Jersey City, New Jersey's Liberty State Park - a sprawling public space known for its lovely views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty - is also a common destination for July 4 revelers from the Garden State.

Christie's office ordered that signs telling visitors that the state Capitol and other buildings are closed on Saturday showed Prieto's face and listed the Assembly Speaker's office phone number.

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.

Legislators in both New Jersey and ME are working through the weekend to reach a deal.

The state has entered its third straight fiscal year without a budget. Bruce Rauner (R) and state House Speaker Mike Madigan (D) worked on a deal.

In between the feuding lawmakers, hundreds of protesters who had abruptly found themselves without paychecks coming gathered at the State House to protest the shutdown.

Republicans are pushing Democrats to cut spending and cap taxes, while Democrats are pressing Republicans to raise taxes to eliminate a budget gap.

School funding, state payroll, and pension payments could also be affected if the shutdown persists into August, Comptroller Susana Mendoza, a Democrat, told Bloomberg.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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