Maine lawmakers closer to agreement on budget

Posted June 06, 2011, at 3:48 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Lawmakers are inching toward agreement on a $6.1 billion state budget for the two years starting July 1.

With the deadline for finishing legislative business looming, the Appropriations Committee met during the weekend. There were no final votes, but the committee did reach agreement on several items.

A proposal to eliminate the Maine Rx program that reduces prescription drug prices was replaced with a plan to make the program self-sufficient through $15-per-year fees. The amount earmarked to buy state police vehicles was reduced.

Last week, the committee agreed to some of Gov. Paul LePage’s pension reform proposals. They include a three-year cost-of-living freeze for active and retired state employees and the setting of future increases at 3 percent rather than 2 percent as the governor proposed.