AUGUSTA - Maine Senate Republican leaders on Friday got their first look at Governor Paul LePage's proposed supplemental 2013 and 2014-2015 biennial budgets. The supplemental budget is designed to address significant revenue shortfalls and balance the state budget, which is required by the Maine Constitution, and the biennial budget establishes spending priorities for the next two years.
"This is a serious budget proposal that will receive serious consideration in the Legislature," said Senate Republican Leader Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo). "It is very encouraging to see a continued commitment to education funding in the budget and no increase in income taxes. But there are some difficult reductions in this budget, as well. The reality of the situation is that we are in tough economic times, and that is going to translate into painful cuts at the state and local level. I, like everyone else, have concerns about the burden this budget will place on municipalities, but at the same time, recognize the challenge of maintaining essential state services with the revenue we have. All of the Governor's proposals will be fully vetted by Maine lawmakers and those who have other ideas will also be heard."
Assistant Senate Republican Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) said "We have some incredibly painful choices ahead of us. I'm pleased to see the Governor's priorities include not adding to the current heavy tax burden on Maine citizens, protecting the most vulnerable among us, especially the disabled and elderly, and making targeted investments to move our economy forward. If we live within our means, as we must, we are going to have to say 'no' to some powerful special interests, and that will be difficult. The Appropriations Committee, and then the full Legislature, will spend the next four months or so figuring out which ones we can collectively accept. For anyone who is not completely happy with the Governor's proposals - and I will include myself in that group - it is incumbent on us to suggest our own solutions, not just to criticize.
"Although I do not agree with all the Governor has suggested, I applaud him for coming forward with a serious proposal. It is now time to let the Appropriations Committee begin its work," Senator Katz said.
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