Maine lawmakers hint at end to partisan feud that locked government in limbo
AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Legislature’s budget-writing committee may return to Augusta as soon as next week, a sign that Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives could be fixing to put aside certain differences on a gridlocked spending package.
Those differences, however, haven’t been officially set aside. Lawmakers ended their regular 2018 session in early May with lots of bipartisan priorities tied up in the dispute, including raises for direct care workers, a $100 million transportation bond and funding for county jails.
Democrats have insisted that start-up funding for voter-approved Medicaid expansion be part of any spending deal and they have proposed a $10.4 million bill to fund more than 100 state jobs related to expansion. House Republicans would like to slow a voter-approved minimum wage increase and the session ended after they rejected bids to extend the legislative session.
There are new — if small — signs of movement. The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee will likely return to Augusta next week, though no day has been determined. That is a first step toward bringing the full Legislature back to consider passing a spending package before the next fiscal year begins on July 1.
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