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Committee Split On Party Lines Over 2-Year State Budget

Members of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee have split on party lines over the two-year state budget that is supposed to take effect July 1, setting up a battle by the entire Legislature over spending priorities.

Republican state Sen. Roger Katz from Augusta says the 3 percent surtax on incomes over $200,000 a year, approved by voters last November, will hurt Maine’s economy and must be repealed.

“We all want Maine to be No. 1 in lots of things, but being No. 1 in how much we tax job creators is not one of them,” he says.

Sen. Cathy Breen, a Democrat from Falmouth on the panel, says the Democratic proposal rejects many parts of the GOP budget plan.

“It rejects the governor’s unnecessary cuts, protecting hospitals, property tax relief efforts and jobs. And perhaps most importantly, it respects the will of the voters,” she says.

Members of both parties acknowledge they do not have the votes needed to pass their versions. That means more negotiations before a budget is crafted that can get the two-thirds vote necessary for final approval.