The Maine Senate and House of Representatives enacted a two-year budget on Wednesday, overriding Gov. Paul LePage’s veto.
The House voted 114-34 for the budget and the Senate followed suit 26-9. Both bodies needed a two-thirds vote to override the veto and avert a possible state government shutdown on July 1.
In the budget he proposed in January, LePage had proposed eliminating funding for a 40 year old program of revenue sharing with the municipalities. He also called for curbing homestead property tax relief programs.
Many legislators disagreed and restored this spending to the fiscal plan. LePage is a Republican and the Democrats control both legislative bodies.
In order to maintain a balanced budget, legislators added tax increases. The plan calls for the state sales tax to rise to 5.5% from 5% and the meals-and-lodging tax to 8% from 7%, with both measures to elapse after two years.
LePage, whose roots are in the Tea Party movement, threatened early on to veto a budget with tax increases. LePage also objected to some of the legislative budget’s education program cuts.
On Monday he followed through and vetoed the budget.
The budget is $6.3 billion for two years, and compares with a $6.1 billion budget approved in June 2011 for the preceding two years.
The budget passed two years ago had $150 million in tax reductions. It cut the top income tax rate and eliminated tax payments for 70,000 low-income residents.
The Senate appropriations committee is about to consider bond bills. It must complete its work by Monday, the start of Maine’s fiscal year.