AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate voted Tuesday to sustain three vetoes by Gov. Paul LePage despite arguments by Democrats to override them.

Last week, LePage vetoed a bill to give a small tax break to loggers, a sales tax exemption for nonprofit performing arts centers and a bill to require that energy efficiency measures be considered for new public buildings.

Democrats spoke on the Senate floor in defense of their bills. The Senate is controlled by Republicans, 19-15, with one seat vacant.

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, said it was important to give a tax break to performing arts centers as a way to help them sustain jobs. LePage vetoed the bill because he said tax breaks should be reserved for necessities, such as food, shelter and medicine.

Gerzofsky won a few Republican votes, but a 19-15 vote in support of an override fell short of the two-thirds necessary.

Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, said his bill to give as much as a $1,000 tax credit for fuel was intended to provide “a small amount of help” to loggers. He asked senators who would not vote for an override to ask the governor to come to Aroostook County to meet with loggers to hear their concerns.

LePage vetoed the bill because he intends to offer his own tax relief package later his year to help loggers, according to his veto letter. That override effort got only 14 votes.

And Sen. Phil Bartlett, D-Gorham, told his colleagues that his bill was designed to help municipalities and school districts save money when designing new buildings. LePage vetoed the bill, saying he felt it was an additional mandate on local government. That override attempt got 15 votes.

The Senate votes prevented any override attempts in the House. During the last year, LePage has issued 15 vetoes, all of which have been sustained by the Legislature.

Susan Cover — 620-7015

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