AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The legislature today moved a step closer to protecting money for town and city services. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate passed the bill to prevent forty million dollars in cuts to municipal revenue sharing.
Funding for revenue sharing was cut in the current budget and scheduled to be cut more in 2015. And because those cuts to local government can also can threaten union jobs for firefighters, police or teachers, union members crowded the halls of the Statehouse Tuesday morning to lobby legislators on the issue.
The bill being voted on would take $21 million from the state's rainy day fund, and also take another $15 million in anticipated surplus at the end of the year. Democrats drafted the plan and all support the bill. Republicans have criticized the plan, especially what they call "raiding" the rainy day fund. However, Republicans say they also want to protect revenue sharing, and most Republicans today voted for the package.
The House has now passed the measure twice, and has one vote remaining. The Senate gave the measure initial passage today on a 33-2 vote. It has two more votes.
Governor Paul LePage's office issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, urging lawmakers to change the plan. State Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett says taking money from the rainy day fund will hurt the state's bond rating and cost more to borrow money. Democratic leaders have said the bond rating claim isn't true. The Governor's office said last week he would veto the revenue sharing bill if it passes, but said today he will review the bill when it eventually reaches his desk and then decide.