Rep. Valentino’s proposal to reduce the size of the Maine Legislature makes national list of budget-saving proposals
November 10, 2011
AUGUSTA – An innovative measure that would have created a unicameral legislature in Maine gained nationwide attention this month in a recent issue of State Legislatures Magazine, published by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The measure was featured in a report on budget-saving initiatives being considered by states across the country.
“I’m glad to see that a national publication chose to feature my proposal for a one-body, unicameral legislature,” said Rep. Linda Valentino (D-Saco), who sponsored the resolution that was ultimately rejected by lawmakers this spring. “Consolidating our legislature is important now, more than ever, as we work to cut spending and maximize our resources to support our schools, public safety, and health care.”
Rep. Valentino proposed an amendment to the Maine constitution to eliminate the current 151-member Maine House of Representatives and 35-member Maine Senate and replace it with a unicameral body with 151 members. The resolution was supported by the State and Local Government Committee and passed in the House of Representatives in May, but it was rejected by the Senate last June. If the resolution had passed, it would have been sent to the people for a vote.
Documents prepared by the Office of Fiscal and Program Review this spring showed that combing the two bodies into one-body was projected to save the state over $11.5 million dollars in every budget cycle. The $11.5 million is the cost of operating the current Senate. This translates into an operating cost of about $300,000 per person for each of the present 35 Senators.
“A unicameral legislature would have saved the people money, led to greater accountability, efficiency, and transparency in government, while retaining the checks and balances between the three branches of government.” said Rep. Valentino.
Jodi Quintero [Valentino], 287-1488, c. 841-6279