From David Sorensen, House Republican Communications Director
AUGUSTA – The Maine Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) Committee agreed early Wednesday morning to approve L.D. 1807, the Governor’s bill to restore $21 million to the state’s rainy day fund, with a clean vote.
Late last week, Democrats in a party line committee vote added an $18 million spending amendment to the Governor’s bill. Republicans quickly warned that the added measure would not find bipartisan support.
“Working together last night, we were able to convince our Democratic colleagues to restore the rainy day fund and allow the Governor to release the bonds without adding new spending to the mix,” said Rep. Kathleen Chase (R-Wells), ranking House Republican on the AFA Committee. “I’m pleased that we can now move forward in a bipartisan manner and balance the budget while restoring the rainy day fund.”
Governor LePage has declined to release bonds until the Budget Stabilization Fund, or “rainy day fund,” is restored to $60 million. Selling bonds with a diminished reserve would put the state’s credit rating in jeopardy, he maintains.
“We’ve got to be more fiscally responsible as a state and watch our spending and our credit just like Maine families do every day,” said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport), who introduced LD 1807 on behalf of Governor LePage. “There will always be a push and pull between Democrats wanting to spend more money and raises taxes, and Republicans wanting to control spending and preserve our savings and credit, but in the end, I’m confident we can work together to complete the work that needs to be done.”
Among the Democrats’ spending initiatives were measures to fund welfare for non-citizens, increase pay for state employee labor unions, and eliminate business tax incentives.