LePage Vetoes State Budget – Lawmakers Will Try To Avoid State Shutdown Wednesday 

Governor LePage has vetoed the $6.3 billion state budget saying it “comprises state spending for the upcoming two-years.”In a prepared statement Monday, LePage said he vetoed the budget that begins July 1 for two reasons – because it temporarily raises the sales and meals and lodging taxes while cutting more than $18 million from the education budget he proposed.”…money alone will not fix education in Maine,” LePage said in his veto message. “We need to give our students options, to recognize that each student is an individual and each one learns differently. Throwing more money at administration and overhead merely continues the status quo.” LePage said there’s other avenues to pursue besides tax increases to balance the budget.”There is so much we can do. Our overly generous welfare programs can be reformed, cutting waste, fraud, and abuse. We can rethink our subsidies to cities and towns – Lewiston and Auburn are already doing much together and could do more. I have told everyone where the efficiencies lie in Waterville, Winslow, Oakland, and Fairfield. And often we forget that our counties can be partners to increase efficiencies and reduce cost in local government. But we need to start somewhere, and that somewhere starts in Augusta.” Monday afternoon, Democrats hammered the governor for the veto and hinted that LePage seems to want a government shutdown. “Today’s veto affirms the Governor’s commitment to shutting the state down if he did not get his budget, his way. This is not leadership, and once again, one man is getting in the way of progress for the people of Maine,” Senate President Justin Alfond said in a statement released by his office.Democrats argue the budget that won overwhelming bipartisan support in the House (102-43 vote) and Senate (25-10 vote), which was unanimously endorsed by the Appropriations Committee, significantly reduces the cuts to cities, towns and Maine’s schools that were proposed in the original LePage budget. In a statement released by the House Speaker’s office Democrats defended the budget as a fair compromise: “It restores $125 million in cuts to revenue sharing, replaces the Circuit Breaker cuts with a $29 million property tax fairness credit and restores $9 million in cuts to the Homestead Tax Credit. It also restores $32 million in cuts to Maine’s schools.” The House Chair on the Appropriations Committee, Lewiston Democrat Peggy Rotundo, called the veto a “disappointment.””We worked in a bipartisan, collaborative way to come up with a fair budget to restore cuts to local communities and schools and to protect our elderly and people with disabilities,” Rotundo said in a statement. “The bipartisan budget would serve the people of Maine well and a government shutdown wouldn’t serve anyone.” Now all eyes turn to the House and Senate to see if there’s enough votes to override the governor’s veto. A spokesperson for House Republican Leader Ken Fredette, a Newport Republican, says he’ll vote to override the veto but would not speak for the rest of the caucus.Lawmakers are scheduled to take up the budget on Wednesday.(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report)