New budget compromise increases school funds, cuts 3 percent tax voters approved

State budget continuance

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Senate Republicans in Augusta have proposed a new budget compromise they hope will break the stalemate in budget negotiations.

At a meeting of the special budget conference committee on Wednesday, Senator Roger Katz outlined the plan. It increases the amount of new state funding for schools to $146 million, in exchange for eliminating the 3% tax on higher incomes passed by voters last year.

It also increases the funding for the state’s property tax relief plan, which has been a key demand of Democrats. Sen. Katz said the negotiators are also “very close” to agreement on a package of education reforms, which he believes would address some concerns of House Republicans and Gov. LePage.

The plan includes an increase in the lodging tax to help provide money for schools. Added taxes have been a sticking point for Republican leaders, as has the total amount of spending in the budget.

The new Senate plan put the total amount of spending in the new budget at more than $7.1 billion for two years, and House Republicans have said Gov. LePage won’t support that much. 

The plan has not yet been presented to the Governor.

There was no comment yet on the plan from Democrats or House Republicans. Katz said he hopes the new proposal can be a compromise that will attract votes from all sides.

Speaker of the House Sara Gideon said she hopes to have a plan passed by that committee Wednesday night or Thursday morning, so it could then be voted on by the full legislature on Friday.

The deadline for a new budget is midnight Friday.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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