Top state lawmakers want budget deal in 48 hours

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --

Time is not on the side of state lawmakers trying to reach a two-year budget deal before Friday.
Maine's state government could partially shut down if top state republicans and democrats can't agree on how to fund it.
There’s no deal yet, but if there's going to be one, legislative leaders say it will likely be soon, either Monday or Tuesday.
No leaders from either party want a shutdown.

They say an agreement needs to be made within the next 48 hours or so.

“Monday and Tuesday is down to the wire just because it takes a great deal of time to craft an 800 page document which is what our budget ultimately is,” said Speaker of the House, Sara Gideon. “In the next two days we have to get this done and come to an agreement.”
That's because, even once a deal is reached, it needs to be voted on by the legislature, then signed by Governor LePage.
As we've reported for weeks, the big issue dragging this process out is education funding.
Many state republicans are worried about increasing taxes to pay for schools.
Senate President Mike Thibodeau says the results of the Question 2 referendum last fall which when enacted into law, would increase taxes on high-earners to pay for schools, passed by such a narrow margin, it should be carefully worked into the budget to keep state tax rates competitive.
Democratic leaders still want that tax increase but hope towns and cities could lower property taxes if their education costs are lowered.
No matter what compromise is reached, if any, there's a sense of urgency on both sides of the aisle this weekend.

“We need to have an agreement in place either Monday or Tuesday in order to get that onto the floor and voted in by the 30th,” said Senate President Thibodeau. “You can't turn a budget around in a matter of 24 hours.”
Even if lawmakers are able to reach a compromise in two days, the government isn't guaranteed to stay running.  
Governor LePage could veto the proposal.
If the timing of that veto is close to June 30th deadline, a shutdown could still happen. 

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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