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Governor Vows Not to Propose a Supplemental Budget
09/25/2013   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

Maine Democrats say Gov. Paul LePage is shirking his constitutional responsibilities by refusing to submit a supplemental budget next year, according to Maine Democrats who say they'll get the job done if the governor won't. Democratic leaders in Augusta say recent reports indicating a drop in state revenues should send a message to LePage that budget revisions could be needed. Republicans, however, say its too early to tell.

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When Democratic leaders were notified last week that the state's revenue estimates are nearly $7 million dollars under budget they were alarmed. But when they heard that Gov. Paul LePage was vowing not to respond to those figures with a so-called "supplemental" budget next year, they were astounded.

"We do not believe this is good leadership for the state of Maine," Alfond said.

Senate President Justin Alfond, is a democrat from Portland.

"Regardless of where our state is each month, at the end of the year or if we're in session, the Governor's responsibility is to make sure that we have a balanced budget and when we have surpluses or we have deficits -- he needs to put out a supplemental budget."

LePage says if the Legislature -- under the control of majority Democrats -- had adopted his original budget, the two-year-tax-and-spending plan would be balanced. Because lawmakers rejected his proposal, LePage told the Lewiston Sun Journal that it will it will be up to the legislature to fix any budget shortfalls that may arise, and Lepage's fellow Republicans in Augusta say its too early to decide what might be required.

"I think that first and foremost we have to understand that we are only a couple of months into the new fiscal year," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette.

House Republican Leader Ken Fredette, of Newport, says that when the Legislature returns to Augusta in January, Maine's revenue picture could show improvement, making a supplemental budget unnecessary. He says Democrats should wait until state revenue forecasters actually conclude there will be a shortfall

"As those things go forward we'll be able to make a more intelligent decision on where -- exactly --we are," Fredette said.

Rep. Peggy Rotundo, a Lewiston Democrat who serves as House chair of the Appropriations Committee, says if the governor wants to walk away from his obligations under Maine law, the Legislature will balance the budget.

"We have a constitutional responsibility to meet and if he refuses to meet his constitutional responsibility, the Legislature will meet its responsibility and we'll vote out a supplemental budget that meets that responsibility," Rotundo said.

Rotundo says current revenue declines would have taken place whether lawmakers had adopted the governor's budget or not.



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