Maine lawmakers tiptoe toward pulling gridlocked spending bills out of limbo
Lawmakers set the stage Monday for calling a special session later this month with unanimous agreement on a spending package that doesn’t include any funding for Medicaid expansion or changes to Maine’s minimum wage law.
The $42.2 million package preliminarily approved Monday by the Appropriations Committee represents a significant breakthrough in a political stalemate that has stretched on since April, though several major issues remain unresolved. Still left to negotiate are a bond package that would likely include $100 million for road and bridge maintenance, a technical errors bill that threatens Maine Clean Election Act funding if not enacted, and an education funding bill.
The bills moving forward for consideration by the full Legislature include legislation to allocate money to eliminate a waiting list for in-home services for Mainers with intellectual disabilities and autism, maintain raises for direct-care workers, pay for lead abatement programs, create a hub-and-spoke model for people with substance abuse disorders, expansion of drug courts and fund a number of childhood and senior citizens support programs in the Department of Health and Human Services.
These bills will be wrapped into LD 925 to be considered as a whole. House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, said the Medicaid funding bill would likely be considered on its own. Gideon said in a written statement that Monday’s vote “demonstrates to the people of our state that we can find consensus without compromising our values.”
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