AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage surprised the Legislature’s budget committee this afternoon, raising his hand to get a turn at the microphone and then urging members to “get it done.”

The Appropriations Committee was talking about $37 million worth of LePage’s $221 million proposed cuts that need federal approval, and what would happen if the approval is denied.

LePage sat listening – he had said he wasn’t planning to speak – then raised his hand a few times and was invited to the microphone. He said he would personally go to Washington to demand approval after the Legislature acts.

“If (the cuts) are not approved by Feb. 1 and I don’t get on a plane Feb. 2 and stay in (Health and Human Services Commissioner) Sebelius’ office (until we get a waiver), on April 1, we default.”

LePage said failure to act will put schools and nursing homes in danger of closing. Lawmakers have downplayed the possibility that either of those things will happen and say they are making progress in negotiations to close the budget gap.

Lawmakers called a break after LePage left. They plan to continue working in the budget into the weekend and next week.


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