Republicans and Democrats clash over state budget

The State's biennial budget has become contentious.
The State's biennial budget has become contentious.(Gray tv)
Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 5:07 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Legislative Republicans say they’re being shut out of negotiating on the state’s biennial budget.

Democrats say the budget is a baseline, the same as the last one, and it’s important to pass it quickly to ensure stability.

Legislative Republicans gathered outside the State House Wednesday to express concerns that Democrats will force through a biennial budget this week by majority vote.

Representative Sawin Millet (R) spoke about the lack of input the budget proposal has had. ”This is a budget that is incomplete, premature, full of holes, and lacking any feedback from the policy committees.”

Senate President Troy Jackson says there are no party wishlist items in the budget, that it is essentially the same as the last biennial budget. ”This is the budget that we had a two-thirds vote on two years ago we’re working under currently, and there’s absolutely no reason why as Democrats and Republicans we can’t come forward and support this budget.”

Senator Cathy Breen (D) welcomed input from Republicans. ”There’s nothing on this budget that the Republicans on Appropriations haven’t seen for months. It was delivered to us in January.”

Democrats insist Republicans have been welcome to negotiate, but Republicans counter Democrats are skipping important deliberations in crafting a full biennial budget.

Senator Jeff Timberlake (R) says the budget proposal is incomplete. “That document will run anywhere from 570 to 650 pages, and it’s line item.” Timberlake held up a single sheet of paper. “This is the proposal they sent for us to vote on.”

Speaker of the House Ryan Fecteau says it’s important that Maine businesses and people know what the budget will be quickly. “This is a no frills budget. This is back to basics. This is about getting something done now that provides the predictability and stability that Maine people deserve and need.”

If passed by simple majority, Democrats will adjourn the legislature to ensure the budget goes into effect then return in an emergency session to address federal funds and other concerns.

House Republican leader Kathleen Dillingham was fiery in her rebuttal of the proposal. ”It’s a sham because we don’t know how much more spending will be added onto this. Then we’re going to be brought back in emergency session to then pass more spending bills.”

”We can do a bipartisan budget.” said representative Millet. “We can be able to work together, and I think we can do a much better job than what will start to unfold tomorrow.”

”This is a two thirds budget until our colleagues decide to make it a majority budget.” said President Jackson.

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