Daily Brief: LePage will propose budget plan today

Today is the day all your questions will be answered. 

That is, if all your questions are about what will be in Gov. Paul LePage’s biennial budget proposal. 

This afternoon LePage will brief lawmakers and the press about the contents of his budget for the two years beginning on July 1. We know the proposal will include cuts to the state’s income tax (though we don’t know how much, or how he proposes to pay for them), but other details about the plan have been tightly held by the governor and his administration for months. 

With majority Republicans in the Senate friendly to his agenda, LePage will be hoping for better luck shepherding his budget proposal through the Legislature this year than he had two years ago.

In 2013, he was rebuked by the Democrat-controlled Legislature, which balked at several of his budget proposals — most notably the gutting of Maine’s revenue-sharing program with local city and town governments. Eventually, the Legislature passed its own budget, overriding LePage’s veto to do so. 

That’s what’s happening today. Here’s what happened yesterday. And don’t forget, you can sign up to receive BDN Daily Brief in your inbox every morning. 

Breen takes the oath of office, finally

One of the surprise political stories at the end of 2014 was wrangling around who actually won the Falmouth-area Senate District 25 seat. Democrat Cathy Breen was the apparent victor on election night, but then a recount appeared to hand the seat to Republican Cathy Manchester of Gray.

Breen and the Maine Democratic Party continued to contest the results while majority Republicans in the Senate installed Manchester for what turned out to be one of the shortest Senate terms in Maine history. A Senate investigatory committee later determined that errors were made during the recount process and that Breen was indeed the winner.

Drama surrounding the election ceded to routine on Thursday when Gov. Paul LePage swore administered the oath office to Breen during a private ceremony attended by Breen’s husband and children. Breen, who has been appointed to the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, said in a prepared statement that her priorities include property tax relief and expanded bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

Annual ‘Unity Rally’ at the State House

Dozens of activists from across Maine converged on the State House Thursday in an effort to convince lawmakers to work together toward what they said were the most important issues and problems facing Maine. Known as the Alliance for the Common Good, they pounded drums, waved signs and held a more than hour-long press conference.

Among the stated goals of the rally were:

  • That state government “show respect” for community and tribal sovereignty;
  • That revenues derived from taxes paid by Mainers be spent to benefit Maine people exclusively;
  • That the state develop and economy “that puts the environment first”; and
  • That steps be taken to keep money out of politics.

Also strongly represented at the rally were activists who oppose the creation of a private East-West highway in Maine, a group that seeks to protect tribal water rights and opponents of commercial mining in Maine.

There were very few lawmakers in attendance, perhaps because they were convening for their second day of business since coming back to Augusta on Wednesday.

LD 1 unlikely to make history books

Folks in Augusta typically put a lot of stock in which bill is the first to come out of the revisor’s office, thus earning legislative document number “1,” or LD 1.

Two years ago, LD 1 was a bill to reform Maine’s workers compensation program, a policy priority for the governor and many lawmakers, and which ended up being passed into law. Four years ago, when LePage first took office, LD 1 was the governor’s “Regulatory Fairness and Reform Act,” which was central to LePage’s goal of improving Maine’s business climate. That bill was also passed into law.

This year’s LD 1 seeks to name a bridge. With all due respect to the fine residents of Standish and Limington, “A Resolve to Name the Route 11 Bridge over the Saco River in Standish and Limington the Veterans Memorial Bridge” is not likely to generate much controversy, or be remembered by history.

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.