AUGUSTA – Another day has passed in the Capitol without a state budget agreement.
The clock is ticking in Augusta, with lawmakers no closer to a budget deal on Monday than they were in days prior. The major issue remains a voter-approved 3% tax that would fund public K-12 schools.
Speaker of the House Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) says negotiations are slow, even though three sides have reached a compromise.
“We understand that this is what governing is about, and still the House Republicans at this point are really sitting on an island, unwilling to fully engage in this discussion in a way that closes our state budget,” Gideon said.
House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Rockport) disagrees, saying House GOP members are at the table, working with all parties as well as Governor LePage.
“We’re pushing now for education reforms and for spending that’s within the limits of what we think we can afford,” Fredette said. “I think standing by those principles are what’s important to do , not sitting here and figuring out how we can all hold hands and be nice to each other.”
If a budget cannot be approved by June 30, the government will shut down, affecting not only government employees but the entire state.
“The effects are so devastating and so far reaching that every single one of us should consider it as something that is not an option,” Gideon said.
“I don’t think anyone here wants to see the state government do that, so we just continue to work around the clock to figure out how to get this done,” said Fredette.
Budget talks will continue Tuesday.