Maine Rep. Urges Lawmakers to Find Common Ground to Keep State Running

Rep. Chellie Pingree, (D-Maine)

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree is urging Maine lawmakers to find common ground and agree on a budget to keep the state running.

The state's partial shutdown began Saturday after the Legislature failed to enact a two-year budget Friday.

Pingree, a Democrat, says obstructionist actions in Augusta are jeopardizing the livelihoods of thousands of state employees.

The House is scheduled to begin meeting at noon on Saturday. Union members and Democrats were the first to arrive, and held a rally outside the House floor calling for the state to pass a budget.

Phil Bartlett, chair of the Maine Democratic Party, said the shutdown is about show, not core principles.

Earlier in the day, dozens of union members and state employees marched and chanted outside the Maine State House saying a government shutdown is the fault of Gov. Paul LePage and Republican lawmakers.

The state's partial shutdown began just after midnight when the Legislature failed to enact a two-year budget Friday.

Marchers carried signs saying "Shame" and "Do your job so I can do mine."

The shutdown will continue until the state agrees on a spending plan. Lawmakers say they will work through the weekend to try to make that happen.

The full effects of the shutdown haven't been felt by many yet because it's the weekend. Essential services such as law enforcement will remain in place while lawmakers work on the budget.

The Republican LePage had blamed Democratic lawmakers for forcing the shutdown.

The two-year, $7.1 billion budget would have eliminated a voter-approved 3 percent surtax on high earners to fund schools, provided $164 million in additional education funding and raised the state's lodging tax.

LePage and House Republicans want less spending, support for some policy initiatives that were rejected and an overall income tax cut.

Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon says she left a late-night meeting at LePage's residence in response to his "aggressive behavior" toward her.

LePage's office didn't immediately comment.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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