AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine lawmakers got here to a late tax reduction deal early Wednesday, when the Legislature’s price range committee almost unanimously superior a spending bundle at a tough price of greater than $800 million.
One-party budgets have been on the verge of changing into a brand new normal within the State Home after Democrats handed a $9.9 billion bundle in March on the heels of one other one two years earlier. Over the weekend, it seemed like Democrats have been planning to bypass Republicans after they took a sequence of votes on a proposed addition to that price range.
By the tip, Democrats agreed to incorporate a number of bipartisan initiatives in a significant breakthrough. Chief amongst them was a invoice from Home Minority Chief Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, that will elevate Maine’s pension exemption from $30,000 to $35,000, then proceed elevating it into the long run based on the utmost Social Safety profit.
It fell far in need of Republicans’ preliminary demand of $200 million in tax reduction, and Democrats rolled a number of of their partisan priorities into the price range. However solely Rep. Jack Ducharme, R-Madison, voted in opposition to the plan early Thursday. The doc was despatched to the chamber flooring for probably approval in a late-night sequence of votes that closed at 3:45 a.m. Wednesday.
“We pushed onerous for lots of issues that we felt very strongly about, and I’m grateful that we have now come collectively,” Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, stated.
The full price of the spending and transfers within the doc was not instantly accessible early Wednesday, however Sen. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, the committee’s co-chair, stated it was between $800 million and $900 million. An up to date determine comprising late updates is predicted on Thursday.
The price range will add roughly $30 million per yr to cowl a toddler care overhaul led by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. It additionally provides roughly $25 million in start-up funding for a paid household and medical go away program that handed alongside get together traces and consists of funds for an amended baby tax credit score plan to regulate Maine’s $300 credit score primarily based on inflation.
Quite a few objects earned bipartisan assist, such because the pension change anticipated to price $48 million by the 2026 fiscal yr, $1.5 million for rural dependancy restoration housing for households and a repair to Maine’s property tax freeze program for seniors.
“I need to notice the wonderful, fantastic funding … within the Maine those that that is going to engender,” Rep. Melanie Sachs, D-Freeport, the opposite price range panel co-chair.
The plan differs from Gov. Janet Mills’ unique $900 million proposal by placing some funding for roads and bridges after lawmakers on the Transportation Committee inked a landmark deal to dedicate some tax income towards that objective. It additionally consists of the governor’s new “Dirigo Enterprise Incentive,” a souped-up enterprise tax break program that has confronted criticism from the left and proper.
The committee additionally voted to incorporate $12 million to assist offshore wind tasks within the Gulf of Maine, a transfer a number of Republicans questioned after Mills vetoed a invoice geared toward boosting offshore wind port growth over it containing labor protections she opposes.
The breakthrough got here hours after a fractured Home vote on Mills’ signature abortion-rights invoice on Wednesday. Any price range gridlock within the Home and Senate threatened to derail Home Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross’ largest precedence, a tribal-rights invoice that Mills opposes.
It should want a two-thirds vote in each chambers to outlive a governor’s veto and barely handed by that margin within the Home final week with the assistance of 21 Republicans.
BDN author Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.