AUGUSTA – The Maine House of Representatives on Tuesday took up LD 1762, the bill that forestalls $40 million in revenue sharing cuts with a $21 million raid on the rainy day fund, a $4 million sweep of the income tax relief fund, and $15 million in revenue surpluses.
Republican lawmakers offered floor amendments to provide structural alternatives to the budget gap that would not jeopardize the state’s credit rating or shut the door on future tax relief.
House Minority Leader Ken Fredette’s floor amendment would task the Governor’s Office of Policy and Management with finding spending reductions to equal the $40 million needed for fiscal year 2015.
“The tax expenditure task force, which was responsible for closing this $40 million gap and was stacked with liberals, failed to complete its task,” said Rep. Fredette. “OPM, on the other hand, successfully completed its task of finding $35 million in spending cuts. My amendment would give the job to OPM since the majority Democrats and their task force have proven themselves incapable of balancing the budget in a responsible manner.”
Rep. Lawrence Lockman (R-Amherst) introduced an amendment that would reduce welfare spending as an alternative to raiding the rainy day fund.
“When I talk about reducing the size of state government, some people like to ask me, ‘what, specifically, would you cut?’ as if I won’t have an answer,” said Lockman on the House floor. “Well, here’s my answer. Here are 25 million answers. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg that is sinking Maine’s economic ship.”
Rep. Wayne Parry (R-Arundel) introduced an amendment to give $7 million in property tax relief directly to needy seniors and pay for it with revenue sharing reductions to municipal government.
“Democrats talk a big game about helping the needy and the elderly, but it’s clear now where their priorities are,” said Parry.
Rep. Dean Cray (R-Palmyra) had a very specific spending cut alternative to raiding Maine’s rainy day fund. His amendment proposed eliminating green energy subsidies to replace $14 million in reductions to the rainy day fund.
Rep. Michael Beaulieu (R-Auburn) introduced an amendment to rework the revenue sharing formula to bring more fairness among Maine cities and towns.
Majority Democrats killed each amendment along party lines.
Communications Director, Maine House Republicans