People want a government that works. With the override of the governor’s budget veto, we’ve proved the Legislature is working for Maine people.

After months of work, Democrats and Republicans agreed on a bipartisan budget that was crafted and unanimously recommended by the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee. There was a lot of give and take, and neither party is getting everything it wanted. In the end, the Legislature found common ground and approved a responsible budget for Maine.

Legislators recognized the collaboration that went into the bipartisan budget and overwhelmingly overrode the governor’s veto with a 114-34 vote in the House and a 26-9 vote in the Senate. The governor’s veto again confirmed that he is not interested in compromising or attempting to find common ground with anyone who disagrees with him.

The governor’s “my way or the highway” mentality could have resulted in a government shutdown. A shutdown would have left thousands of state workers without a job and crucial state services unavailable.

The Legislature understood that this was not the right course for Maine. The Legislature embraced the cooperation and compromise that was used to craft the budget and do what is best for Maine.

The governor likes to say he’d never raise taxes, but his budget amounted to a $400 million tax increase on communities and their property taxpayers. Lawmakers agree the governor’s original budget proposal was not the right budget for Maine.

The governor proposed suspending the state’s revenue sharing program that provides vital funds to our local communities for everyday services you and I rely on. It eliminated our state’s circuit breaker program and the Homestead Tax Credit Maine residences depend on and it eliminated Maine’s Drugs for the Elderly program, a vital program that helps our seniors pay for their medicines.

The compromise budget restores nearly two-thirds of the cuts to revenue sharing, which will ease the stress on towns and property owners. It also creates a $29 million property tax fairness credit designed to replace the circuit breaker program, restores $9 million in cuts to the Homestead Tax Credit and fully re-establishes funding for the Drugs for the Elderly program.

What is more important than our children’s schools? The Legislature’s budget restores $32 million in cuts to Maine schools originally proposed by the governor.

We must do everything we can to help our schools succeed. By cutting funding, we would have severely hampered our schools’ ability to perform at a high level. We also began a process to reach 55 percent of school funding paid for by the state as called for by Maine’s voters.

The governor’s proposal would have been especially damaging to our communities and Maine’s working-class families. The Legislature made some painful but necessary cuts and temporarily raised revenue in the form of a half-cent increase in the sales tax and a 1 percent increase in the meals and lodging tax. We also have tasked the state with closing $40 million in corporate loopholes to balance the budget.

This was a difficult budget, but, by working together and compromising, we passed a bipartisan budget. Despite our governor, the government is working for Maine people.

 

Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe is a Democrat from Skowhegan. He is chairman of the Legislature’s Committee on Joint Rules and serves on the Apportionment Commission and Elections Committee.

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