Two Maine Republicans have prepared floor amendments for Thursday’s likely budget vote that would replace the phrase “Vacationland” on Maine’s iconic license plates with what they view as a more apt term: “Taxationland”.
Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin) and Rep. Laurel Libby (R-Auburn) both submitted similar amendments in their respective houses of the legislature as a symbolic rebuke of the Democrats’ decision to pursue a partisan, one-party budget that contains no tax reductions.
This will be only the third time in recent memory that the legislature has passed a so-called “majority budget,” the others being 1997 under Gov. Angus King and in 2021.
If Thursday’s budget showdown goes as most are expecting it to, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills will now be responsible for the majority of partisan budgets passed in the last three decades — a sharp contrast from the incumbent candidate who stressed her record of reaching across the aisle for bipartisan compromise during her re-election campaign.
To earn that distinction, Democrats had to reject a very meager request for tax reform from their Republican counterparts.
Republicans and Democrats had been negotiating for nearly two months about what the next biennial budget would look like until things broke down last Friday. When Republicans proposed a modest reduction to Maine’s state income tax on the first $23,000 of workers’ income, Democrats cut them out of the equation.
Tensions between Republican leaders and Democratic leaders only worsened in the days running up to Thursday’s likely vote.
Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) angered his GOP colleagues with a radio interview in which the top Democrat falsely characterized the Republican proposal.
Later in the day, Senate Minority Leader Trey Stewart (R-Aroostook) accused Jackson of telling a “flat out lie” in order to put words in Republicans’ mouths.
Many Republicans and conservative onlookers believe Jackson and Mills planned all along to send Republicans away empty handed.