AUGUSTA – A bill to prevent multinational corporations from using offshore tax havens to evade taxes in Maine won the House’s initial support with a vote of 86-58 on Tuesday.
Augusta - A bill to address the Department of Health and Human Services’ mismanagement of the MaineCare rides program won initial House approval by a vote of 86-56 on Tuesday.
Municipal revenue sharing measure keeps promise made in budget
AUGUSTA – A measure to keep the state’s funding promise to Maine communities won initial approval by a vote of 114- 21 in the Maine House on Thursday.
AUGUSTA -- The effort to expand health care for tens of thousands of low income Mainers and veterans will continue in January.
Augusta -- Governor Paul LePage’s 60-day budget scheme won’t pass Constitutional muster, according to a letter from the state’s Attorney General. LePage announced the 11th hour budget gimmick today as part of a media event where he pledged to veto the bipartisan plan passed last week by two-thirds of the State Legislature.
In a letter to Presiding Officers of the Legislature, the Attorney General Janet Mills said the state could not pass a temporary continuing resolution. Citing the opinion of the Attorney General on March 2, 1983, Mills wrote:
“Contrary to what the Congress has sometimes done, the Maine Constitution and statutes neither authorize nor envision a continuing resolution or any similar mechanism. Unlike the federal Constitution, the Maine Constitution requires a balanced budget. Any effort to continue the budget that expires on July 1, 2013, would result in a budget that is out of balance, given the major differences between the expenditures of the current budget and those of the budget recently passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor for his signature.”
Last Thursday night, lawmakers sent the Governor a bipartisan compromise that was unanimously endorsed by the Legislature’s Appropriations committee. The bipartisan budget will blunt massive property tax hikes originally proposed by LePage, restore cuts to Maine schools and ensure programs to help the elderly pay for their medicine are funded.
“The Governor should act now to sign the bipartisan budget or veto it so the Legislature can do what's right and responsible for the people of Maine,” said House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick. “We have viable bipartisan compromise. This last minute unworkable scheme is just a distraction.”
Mills letter said LePage’s continuing resolution proposal would throw the state into “financial uncertainty.” Mills said the proposal would face “significant opposition from bondholders, schools, hospitals and thousands of entities to whom the state has continuing and long-term obligations.”
LePage has until Wednesday to act on the budget before it becomes law. He has repeatedly pledged to issue a veto.
AUGUSTA -- In a vote of 102 to 43, the Maine House on Thursday gave its final approval to a responsible bipartisan budget proposal that would blunt massive property tax hikes in Governor Paul LePage’s two-year budget.
“We started with an incredibly difficult challenge and settled on a responsible solution that is far better than the budget Governor LePage sent us,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves, D-North Berwick. “This is a budget that will blunt a massive property tax hike on all Maine people, one that restores funding to schools and ensures our seniors can pay for their health care and medicine.”
Six months ago, LePage presented the Legislature with a $6.3 billion budget that would shift nearly $400 million of the tax burden to communities and their property taxpayers. The governor’s budget would hike property taxes to fund the tax breaks for the wealthy that were passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature two years ago.
The bipartisan budget proposal significantly reduces LePage’s cuts to cities, towns and Maine’s schools. It would restore $125 million in cuts to revenue sharing, replaces the Circuit Breaker cuts with a $29 million property tax fairness credit and restores $9 million in cuts to the Homestead Tax Credit. It also restores $32 million in cuts to Maine’s schools.
“Today, we achieved what many said was impossible: passage of a bipartisan budget, despite a significant shortfall and a divided state house,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham. “While Democrats would have preferred to suspend the unfunded tax breaks for the wealthy, this was a non-starter for Republicans.”
The restorations are partially paid for by capping $65 million in income tax deductions for the wealthy, closing $40 million in corporate loopholes to be identified by a task force and slightly increasing the state’s sales and meals and lodging taxes. The budget includes a temporary half-penny increase in the sales tax and a 1 percent increase in the meals and lodging tax that both sunset after two years.
The House Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston called the budget a true compromise.
“This is not a Democratic budget or Republican budget. It is a responsible budget built on collaboration and common ground,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston. “We were not sent here to represent our political parties. We were sent here to represent the people.”
The budget also restores cuts to the Drugs for the Elderly Program that helps seniors pay for their medicine and care. It also reduces waitlists for enhanced specialized MaineCare services for people with severe disabilities.
The proposal, LD 1509, faces a final vote in the Senate before heading to the Governor for action.
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Saco - As soon as next year, RSU 23 educators will have a new tool for evaluating student achievement.
LD 1290, an act to encourage high school students to complete community service, was introduced by Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco with the purpose of enabling students to be evaluated using an additional pathway. The bill will put community service on the list of traditional academic measurements for graduation which currently includes examinations, quizzes, performances, and student portfolios.
There are wide-ranging benefits and skill sets learned for students who volunteer or have some form of service learning in the classroom, including higher academic achievement, enhanced problem solving skills and increased civic engagement.
“It’s nice to Democrats and Republicans coming together, unanimously, on such an important issue like reforming our education system. This offers an opportunity for students to learn important soft skills sets applicable to the real world via hands-on experiential service learning," says Rep. Chenette.
In 2017, new graduation standards will be in place that creates multiple pathways for students to chose. This initiative aims to complement the transition into those new diploma requirements.
The bill recently passed by both the House and Senate unanimously and is awaiting the Governor’s signature to become law.
AUGUSTA -- Legislative leaders on Thursday voted unanimously to provide funding from the Legislature’s operating budget to help victims of the Lewiston fire during an emergency meeting of the Legislature’s governing body.
Saco, ME - Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco has been named to a national group focusing on connecting young elected officials together across the state and the country.
The Young Elected Officials Network named Chenette their State Director for Maine. The YEO Network supports elected leaders ages 35 and under, as they define issues, develop solutions, and respond to the needs of their communities. Each State Director is responsible for connecting young elected officials within a state together to exchange ideas, develop leadership skills, and work with policy development organizations.
“Getting young people civically engaged has been a core theme throughout my life and I am thrilled to be able to do that on a wider scale across the state,” says Chenette.
4.8 percent of all elected leaders in congressional gubernatorial, legislative, and city and county commission seats in the United States are between the ages of 18 and 35. Yet voters ages 18-29 comprised 21% of eligible voters in 2012 and by 2015, this generation will make up one-third of the electorate.
“It’s time to empower our youth to become active and engaged citizens in the Democratic process; to advocate for issues they care about; and to make a difference in their community.”
AUGUSTA -- The Maine House on Wednesday voted for a measure to give a much-needed boost to the minimum wage, which stands at $7.50 an hour and has remained at that level since 2009.