AUGUSTA – Members of the state’s executive branch are putting together a $6.5 billion two-year-budget proposal. Now, it’s up to state legislators to determine how best to serve the people of the state.
Legislators have only had about three days to review Governor Paul LePage’s final budget proposal. Still it appears approval or dismay can be heard from predictable sides of the political aisle.
Senate Minority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash said “I’m concerned very much. I see a lot of tax cuts for the wealthiest people in this state, which are coming off the backs of property tax payers.”
The proposed 2018-2019 budget calls for eliminating 500 state jobs, expanding the sales tax to include more services and working toward a flat tax rate.
Maine State Employees Association President Ramona Welton added “This is a governor who prides himself, and has stated, calls himself, ‘I’m a job creator.’ Yet all we see out of him is job eliminations or job cuts.”
Although the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sara Gideon, had yet to be briefed by the administration, she had reviewed it during the weekend. She stated “A lot of things I found disappointing about this budget. I was really looking for an investment in Maine people, whether we’re talking about education, whether we’re talking about job creation , whether we’re talking about seniors. And that to me was the fundamental thing lacking in this budget.”
At least one senate leader said legislators have a responsibility to provide Mainers the best bang for their tax dollars.
Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport stated “So each and every one of them positions will be well-vetted. There’s an opportunity for the legislature to look at what’s being proposed and make a decision based on an informed decision.”
Governor LePage has presented his budget now to the legislature.
And it’s in their hands. There’ll be much testifying, hand-wringing, lobbying, and maybe even compromising before it reaches its final incarnation. That could well happen sometime in June.