LePage still opposed to ME budget, setting up shutdown


Lawmakers have been at an impasse on the budget for weeks over disagreements concerning education funding and policy.

In Maine, Republicans in the legislature blocked a budget deal that had been expected to clear final hurdles late Friday. Gov. And he voted that budget out.

The crisis in state employee pension funds has also been building up for a long period of time, with the state governments routinely deferring mandatory contributions to the pension funds with the collaboration of the unions, including state employee unions such as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA).

Portland attorneys Jeff Young and Max Brooks say that the state has a July 5 deadline to pay the union's 3,200 members for work from June 12 through June 23.

New Jersey's government was poised to reopen Tuesday after Republican Gov. Chris Christie reached a budget deal late Monday with Democratic lawmakers.

The shutdown had closed all non-emergency government functions, prompting protests from state employees in Augusta.

MISTLER: LePage has tried to pin the blame on the legislature. State parks managed by the Bureau of Parks and Lands in the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will remain open. Law enforcement and first responders will stay on, including marine patrol, the warden service and the fire marshal. State offices are open, but funding to nonprofit social service agencies is slashed. Only certain criminal, civil and family matters will be heard, including protection from abuse hearings.

U.S. District Judge Jon Levy was scheduled to hold a hearing on the motion for a temporary restraining order Friday at 1 p.m., but a docket entry shows that the meeting was abruptly canceled. It indicates the plaintiffs will suffer immediate harm if payments are cut off.

A partial state government shutdown began early Saturday in ME after lawmakers failed to meet a deadline for a new state budget while House Republicans revealed they were working with GOP Gov. Paul LePage on a secret, alternative plan. So far, no floor votes are schedule.

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The plaintiffs are represented by Jack Comart of the Maine Equal Justice Partners and Jeffrey Neil Young and Valerie Wicks of Johnson, Webbert & Young LLP.

On Wednesday, lawmakers were optimistic of avoiding a shutdown.

Maine, a popular summer holiday destination, is also in the middle of a prolonged fight over its state budget.

The Senate on Thursday voted 33-0 to approve the extension.

Both the leaders of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and Republican-controlled Senate supported the compromise budget.

The days don't need to be used consecutively. The deals that are being voted on now, that they're trying to do to avert the shutdown have all had the 3 percent surtax on income so when it came down into it and Governor LePage refused and others said, "Ok we won't do that".

Medicaid has always been labeled a time bomb for state budgets, and the Obamacare repeal legislation now before the US Senate will detonate it by cutting back federal support for the program by $772 billion over ten years. "We've done exactly that in this budget".

LePage said in a Facebook video that any budget that includes a lodging tax hike will sit on his desk for 10 days.

Governor LePage demanded that the two-year budget proposal rescind a three percent surcharge tax on household income over $200,000 that voters approved in a referendum last fall.