State Government Shutdown Looms as Lawmakers Fail to Reach Budget Compromise UPDATED

After meeting over the weekend to continue budget talks, leading Maine lawmakers are no closer to a deal.

The sticking point continues to be the voter-approved extra 3% tax on Maine’s wealthiest residents to fund education.

House Republicans are fighting to keep the budget under $7 billion.

Democrats want education fully funded with the state providing 55%.

If an agreement is not reached soon, a state government shutdown could begin Independence Day weekend.

“It doesn’t just mean that state employees don’t get their checks, it also means that retirees don’t get their checks. It means that child protection services are not functioning. It means marine patrols are not out making sure that people are safe. It means food inspection safety is not going on. It means that state parks will be closed during these eight weeks where so many Maine businesses rely on tourism,” said Rep. Sara Gideon, (D) Speaker of the House.

“I am hopeful that folks will come to the table, find that common ground this week and we’ll get this done. Obviously we have until June 30th, we’re hoping that the Chief Executive is staying engaged and knows what’s in the budget so that he can take action without having to hold the bill for ten days because we’re inside of that ten day window now,” said Senate President Michael Thibodeau, (R).

The six-member legislative panel tasked with reaching a budget deal is expected to meet again this week.