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Republicans Seek Bigger Role As Maine Lawmakers Consider Huge Spending Bills

Maine Legislature
Robert F. Bukaty
The Maine State House is seen at sunrise, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

Republican leaders and members of the Appropriations committee told reporters outside the State House Monday that both parties should have a say in the two huge spending bills coming before the Maine Legislature.

The state has revenues that are $940 million above initial projects along with $1 billion from the federal Recovery Act. The Democratic-controlled Legislature and Gov. Janet Mills must decide how to allocate all that money over the next two years.

Republicans say they want to be part of the process and have set out a detailed list of their priorities. Representative Kathleen Dillingham of Oxford is House Minority Leader.

"Republicans believe one time money should not go to create new programs or promote spending that will require future tax increases to sustain the spending after the one time money is gone," she says.

Republicans say there is bipartisan agreement on many issues, including school funding and property tax relief.

But the GOP does not support the governor's proposed $140 million bond issue for transportation and public lands programs.

“What the people got, in my opinion, was a sloppy budget that is now in need of fixing. Just a couple of examples of the shoddy rush include funding for six new assistant park rangers but no funding for ballistic vests, radios, uniforms, training and insurance," says Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, a member of the Appropriations Committee.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.