Budget Talks Complete 

Legislative bargainers have put the finishing touches on a two-year budget worth 6.4

billion dollars, but they’re leaving the door open to one last round of negotiated spending.

As it stands, the package includes a mandatory school system

consolidation plan and does without a major tobacco tax increase

originally proposed by Governor John Baldacci.

A wild card will be lawmakers’ reception for the school system

consolidation component.

Service cuts, funding transfers and numerous other budgetary initiatives are designed to balance the

overall package.

Democratic Representative Jeremy Fischer is the Appropriations

Committee’s House chairman.

He predicts there’ll be additional tweaking when the final product moves upstairs for consideration by

the full House and Senate.