AUGUSTA – The Committee of Conference appointed by the Maine Legislature to reach a budget agreement tonight approved a proposal to send to the full Legislature.
The committee vote was 5-1.
The agreement includes an additional $162 million in education funding, achieving the 55 percent state contribution threshold for the first time. It also includes education reforms to put more resources into the classroom, particularly in rural Maine.
The proposal also fully repeals the surtax on Maine’s small businesses, which was a top priority for legislative Republicans.
Maine Senate President Michael Thibodeau said, “This budget incorporates priorities from all legislative caucuses by repealing the job-crushing tax on Maine’s small businesses, providing the largest education increase in Maine history and, for the first time, fulfilling the state’s obligation to fund K-12 education at 55 percent.
“A significant portion of the increased education funding will go directly to property tax relief.
“It also includes significant reforms to education spending to ensure the increased funding makes its way into the classrooms.”
“It also directs additional resources toward services for Maine residents with disabilities.
“While I don’t believe this is a perfect document, we are hopeful this will avert the harm that would result from a government shutdown.”
Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec), a member of the Committee of Conference said, “While no one will be thrilled with this budget, it is the result of a compromise we hope will garner the two-thirds support necessary for passage. The people of Maine are counting on us to deliver, and I believe we are now in a position to pass a budget.”
The budget proposal will be taken up by the Legislature tomorrow.
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