June 13, 2015
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As you may know, it’s been a very busy few weeks in the legislature. Through the previous two weekends, I have worked closely with the Appropriations Committee as they finalized their recommendation on the biennial budget, a document which will require much compromise to gain the necessary support of two-thirds of both the Maine House and Senate in order to override an expected veto from the Governor.
While this has been a grueling process continuing into many late nights and across several weekends, I have been consistently impressed with the good relations cultivated by Appropriations Committee members, especially between the House majority caucus and both parties in the Senate.
It’s been gratifying to see those individuals pull together and negotiate in good faith in order to try to bring together a budget proposal which could win the support of a legislative super-majority. This is the typical culture on the Appropriations Committee, to set aside external political differences and to dedicate themselves relentlessly to reach consensus on the best budget possible for Maine citizens. It was my distinct privilege to participate at close hand in that process this time, advising on the budget components related to education.
At the very end of four months of work, however, it was not possible for the Committee to gain the support of the four House Republicans on the Committee. So, for the first time, in my recollection, there is a divided budget report coming from the Appropriations Committee. With nine votes, the majority budget has the support of Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, and House Democrats. The alternate minority report is being presented by the four dissenting House Republicans.
We expect to vote on the bipartisan majority budget on Monday.
Over this weekend, legislative leadership from both parties in both bodies continues to meet to see if it is possible to gain the necessary support from the House Republican caucus in order to pass a budget and avoid the state shutdown which will occur if the legislature does not pass a budget with a super-majority vote by the end of this month.
So far, perhaps because we are a small state which values interpersonal civility and good faith negotiations, the Maine Legislature has operated markedly differently than our federal counterpart. I have to trust that those values will prevail one more time over the divisive ideology which cheers when collectively we fail.
Representative Brian Hubbell,
Maine House District 135
Bar Harbor, Lamoine, Mount Desert