Maine legislation passed a supplementary budget early Friday morning. Republicans abandoned their request to include tax breaks of more than $ 30 million in the package, which would have benefited wealthy companies in particular.
After the GOP effectively blocked the process for most of Thursday, some Democrats and outside groups are calling on the legislature and governor not to allow, as one lawmaker put, the Republican minority, “the entire state hostage.” hold “budget negotiations and negotiation proposals to help Mainers recover from the pandemic.
The breakthrough budget breakthrough came after Democrats agreed to amend the short-term spending plan to include a study of the impact of the amendment of Maine Act to Federal Tax Act on Foreign Derived Intangible Income (FDII), a deduction the Domestic companies can make a percentage of export sales. The Democrats also agreed to add $ 8 million to the state’s Rainy Day Fund, but stood by Republican calls for additional tax breaks for profitable businesses to be included in the package.
The deal completes a mess at the Augusta Civic Center. The Democrats at Maine House passed the budget Thursday afternoon, but lacked the two-thirds panel support required for the decree after Republicans withheld their support.
Legislators, supporters react to the adoption of the budget
The supplementary budget, approved on Friday morning, includes cuts in all state departments introduced by Governor Janet Mills in response to the financial constraint caused by the pandemic. That includes what critics have called a double tax break for all paycheck protection program recipients. Have lawyers sentenced These tax breaks are a giveaway for profitable businesses at a time when that money is needed to fund initiatives to help those most in need.
The bill includes, among other things, a tax credit for Mainers who have received unemployment benefits, targeted relief for direct care providers and nonprofits, money to support early college programs and K-12 education, and funds for affordable housing.
“I recommend to both the Democratic and Republican leaders that they acted last night to reach a sensible, bipartisan settlement,” Mills said in a statement Friday morning. “As a result of this compromise, 160,000 Maine unemployed people and 28,000 Maine businesses that have received PPP funding will receive important tax breaks.”
The democratic leadership in the house also celebrated the deal.
“This is a great win for Mainers and a great win for non-partisanship,” said Michelle Dunphy, House Majority Chairwoman (D-Old Town).
“This budget is focused on families in Maine,” added Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland), deputy majority leader. “After an incredibly difficult year, especially for marginalized communities, Mainers can feel safe that their Augusta lawmakers have been able to put politics aside to bring them the relief they need.”
But with the state before another fight for that every two years Budget in the coming months, Rep. Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) said there are clear lessons to be learned from the supplementary budget Negotiations.
“Democrats need to be clear about the recent history of the Republicans in the House holding the entire state hostage to changing demands, typically with an emphasis on corporate welfare,” Berry said, adding that serious consideration should be given Biennial Budget Passed by Majority Avoid the possibility of a government shutdown. Currently, the budgets have to be passed by a two-thirds majority so that Republicans in the legislature can hold up the process. Berry said a move to a majority budget would have to be done before April 1, stating that “after this budget vote, additional bipartisan adjustments could be negotiated”.
“The strength of my party is the belief in common prosperity and a fair economy for all. If our votes on each committee truly reflect these values, and if we take into account our majority mandate of Maine voters, we will deliver on the true Maine promise, ”said Berry.
Rep. Mike Sylvester (D-Portland) said he hoped the Democrats’ decision to crack down on Republican calls for corporate tax breaks puts the party in a good position Negotiations on the two-year budget. He said it was a victory that the additional budget earmarked $ 8 million for future government needs instead of sending more than $ 30 million to overseas companies for additional tax breaks. He added that many members of the Democratic Caucus had joined the budget negotiating team to offer support and “Clearly define where the moral lines should support this budget.”
“Budgets are often negotiated behind closed doors,” said Sylvester. “The final days of this budget have been negotiated in the full light of the caucus, and that prepares us well for the two-year budget.”
Stakeholders also weighed on the adoption of the supplementary budget and lessons from the process.
“We appreciate the majority of the holding in Maine Legislature passing an additional budget without adding more lavish freebies to profitable companies,” Garrett Martin, executive director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy, said in a statement.
Looking ahead, however, Martin urged lawmakers to go to great lengths to ensure a robust rebound for Mainers.
“As lawmakers focus their attention on the next biennial budget, MECEP urges lawmakers to prioritize bold action to achieve shared economic recovery for all Mainers and address the long-unmet needs that enable all families to live thrive and thrive. ” he said.
Long day at the Civic Center
The deal ends a lengthy supplementary budget process at the Augusta Civic Center. After the Maine Senate passed an amendment to the supplementary budget on Wednesday night, Republicans of the House buried themselves for most of Thursday and refused to vote for the plan unless additional tax cuts were added for large corporations .
The House voted 83 to 63 for the package on Thursday afternoon, at which point Republicans withheld the votes required of the measure to give it a two-thirds lead. The invoice was then submitted.
In a statement following Thursday afternoon’s vote, Mills criticized Republicans for opposition to the measure, calling the failure to pass the budget a “loss to Maine”. Mills added that the pre-house budget was already a compromise between Democrats and Republicans.
“House Republicans should reconsider their opposition, abandon their last minute attempt to give tax breaks to large multistate, multinational corporations, and join us in reaching a meaningful compromise for Maine people and Maine businesses,” said Mills.
House spokesman Ryan Fecteau (D-Biddeford) also said Republicans who opposed the deal voted against Maine companies and workers.
“Today’s vote is a message we’re sending to over 28,000 companies, the 250,000 Mainers who employ them and over 160,000 Mainers who were unemployed in 2020,” said Fecteau. “This was a vote on whether we would be with them. The Republicans did not stand by their side. “
On Thursday morning, House Republicans had tried to amend the package to include additional corporate tax cuts, but the Democrats opposed those changes and passed the changes contained in the Senate version of the bill, which was passed and won by a two-thirds majority on Wednesday night Support from two Republicans.
Before the House voted on the measure Thursday afternoon, several Democratic lawmakers asked the House Republicans to support the budget.
“This motion is being made right by Maine businesses, Maine workers, and all of those families who have struggled through this pandemic, and I respectfully urge this body to vote yes,” said Rep. Mo Terry (D -Gorham).
Rep. Jessica Fay (D-Raymond) added that the tax credit for those receiving unemployment benefits would provide the support they need to those who lost their jobs during the crisis.
“Without this measure, people who have received unemployment benefits will face state income taxes,” said Fay. “At a time when so many Mainers are struggling to get through, we can reduce the tax burden on those hardest hit by the economic impact of the pandemic by passing this supplementary budget.”
MEP Michele Meyer (D-Eliot) also spoke out in favor of the budget, pointing to the targeted relief of direct distributors and nonprofits as an important aspect of the bill, noting that these organizations were largely excluded from aid programs as the pandemic passed.
“That we can let them fail is incomprehensible,” said Meyer.
Photo: The Chamber of the Maine House | Maine State Legislation