It is always impressive to look back over the Legislative Session and see what we have accomplished in Augusta, but this session was particularly amazing. Even with a divided government we were able to come together when it mattered most for the people of Maine. For example, just this week lawmakers on each side of the isle joined together to override Governor LePage's budget veto.
Now that session is coming to a close I will be spending much more time at home and around the district. In fact, I've already been to some of our annual festivals (see pictures below). I hope to see you over the coming months, whether at Fireworks celebrating our great country's freedom on July 3 at Funtown/Splashtown U.S.A. or at one of the many Old Orchard Beach celebratory events.
Lawmakers Stand United for Mainers and Override LePage Budget Veto
On Wednesday, legislators took the most important vote of the session: the budget veto override. In bipartisan votes, in both the House and Senate, legislators overwhelmingly voted against the governor's veto of our bipartisan budget. In the Senate, six Republicans and one Independent joined all the Democratic members to send a clear message to the people of Maine: we care about you, not politics.
You told us the governor's budget did not reflect Maine values, and we listened. In fact, throughout months of public hearings, only one person testified in support of the governor's budget.
By contrast, the legislature's budget is balanced and responsible, and will keep the state running. It restores nearly two-thirds of the governor's proposed cuts to municipal revenue sharing, restores cuts to education, provides an additional $30 million for public education, $300,000 for the Jobs for Maine Graduates Program, and restores programs that help seniors pay for their prescription medicine.
In order to fund these essential programs and services, as well as many, many others, Democrats and Republicans came together to close $40 million corporate tax loopholes, and Democrats accepted the Republican proposal to increase the sales tax by half a penny and the meals and lodging taxes by one percent for two years.
In overriding the governor's veto, we avoided a state shutdown, which would have been the first since 1991, and would have indefinitely put thousands of Maine State Employees out of work and pay and would have suspended most state services, from driver's license renewals to state park staff.
As my colleague Senator Dawn Hill said on the floor of the Senate, this was not a vote of whether or not you like the budget. It was a vote to shut down or not shut down state government.
No one will claim that this budget is perfect, but the governor's alternative, a state shutdown and a $400 million tax shift to property taxpayers and $100 million in direct tax increases, was in fact no alternative at all.
The budget and the veto override are true testaments to how even in a divided government we can come together to find responsible solutions for the people of Maine.
You can read more here.
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