Lawmakers give final approval to $5.8B spending plan

Posted May 27, 2009, at 11:03 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to send a $5.8 billion state spending plan to Gov. John Baldacci for his signature.

Baldacci, who is out of state today, is expected to sign the 2-year budget on Thursday.

Many of the House and Senate members who spoke Wednesday described the budget as an imperfect product but the best option the state has available as it attempts to weather the current recession.

The spending plan, which is $500 million smaller than the current biennial budget, levies cuts throughout state government, including in education and health and human services programs. It also orders 20 government shutdown days over the next two years and forces state employees to chip in for their health insurance.

But speakers praised the budget-writing committee for their bipartisan approach to the issues over the past several months.

The 119-26 vote in the House and 33-2 vote in the Senate are both well above the two-thirds majority needed to pass the budget.

“All of us should take pride that the budget before us is an example of how the people’s government should work,” Sen. Kevin Raye, a Perry Republican and Senate minority leader, said prior to the vote.

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