Gov. Janet Mills, House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross and Senate President Troy Jackson listen during a news conference about new legislation to protect abortion rights in Maine in January 2023. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

AUGUSTA — The governor and speaker of the House of Representatives on Thursday called for Senate President Troy Jackson to immediately reconvene the budget-writing committee to address concerns about the Democratic majority’s last-minute budget moves.

But a spokesperson for Jackson said Thursday afternoon that the committee had not requested to meet.

The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee recommended a budget in a predawn vote Saturday morning that removed $60 million from the state’s highway budget and made other last-minute changes that drew the ire of Gov. Janet Mills. The Democrat called the moves “ill-advised.”

House Democrats said this week that they were reconsidering some of their budget moves, which also were heavily criticized by Republicans, but didn’t provide details. To resume negotiations, the committee must be called back by both presiding officers.

A joint statement from Mills and House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, suggests that Jackson is holding out, though he is not named.

Talbot Ross said an immediate order to reconvene is vital because lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn Wednesday. Talbot Ross said the budget includes affordable housing, mental health services, public education, child care, nursing home and veterans’ home support, child protection services, and health care.


“Our session is quickly approaching adjournment and it is vital that we pass a supplemental budget,” Talbot Ross said. “However, there are discrete items that deserve reconsideration and I am calling for the committee to reconvene immediately. We must continue our legacy of passing historic, fiscally responsible budgets that address Maine’s most pressing challenges.”

Mills and Talbot Ross urged Jackson reconvene the committee Thursday.

“The speaker and I agree, and are calling for the Appropriations Committee to reconvene immediately – meaning today – to reconsider the budget and arrive at a final product that invests in critical needs while maintaining the budget’s sustainability over the long term,” Mills said.

A spokesperson for Jackson said the committee has not yet requested to meet.

“The Senate president has not received a request for AFA to meet today nor is he aware of plans for AFA to meet today,” spokesperson Christine Kirby said. “However, he agrees with both the speaker and the governor that there are concerns in the current supplemental budget that must be addressed.”

It’s the second time in as many days that Mills has called on Jackson to act on a budget initiative.


On Wednesday, Mills called on Jackson to hold a floor vote on a standalone bill that would allocate $60 million from the state surplus to help pay for repairs to infrastructure damaged during a series of severe storms and severe flooding in recent months. The bill has been approved unanimously by the House, but is awaiting action in the Senate.

Mills said she proposed the standalone spending bill so the funding could be used as soon as possible, rather than getting tied up with contentious budget negotiations.

“I know you care deeply about our hard-hit coastal and inland communities and that you share my desire to see the money go out as soon as possible,” Mills said. “I feel a serious sense of urgency, and I am sure you agree there is no time for delay on this matter of extreme importance.”

The commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources and working waterfront advocates joined the call on Thursday.

“The urgency of need for this funding cannot be overstated,” Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in a written statement. “Wharf owners, co-op managers, and other businesses that rely on our working waterfront are struggling to rebuild, but are facing devastating economic hardships without the support L.D. 2225 promises. I echo Gov. Mills’ statement and urge our Legislature to move this bill forward as quickly as possible and to avoid any further delays in helping sustain and protect Maine’s vital marine economy.”

Democrats control both legislative chambers and the Blaine House.

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