AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage’s ability to invoke line-item veto power on provisions within the newly passed $6.1 billion, two-year state budget evaporated Friday afternoon because the law limits the time a governor can outline his objections.
The deadline passed in a quiet State House on Friday, the day after lawmakers finally passed the budget and voted to adjourn until June 28. The governor still has time to veto the budget in its entirety, but there was no indication Friday that was his intention. The House and Senate, both of which voted strongly in favor of the bipartisan budget, each would need two-thirds majority to override a veto.
Beyond the budget, lawmakers have a number of bills to consider upon their return. Among them is an effort to authorize charter schools, an issue that’s been lingering since last fall’s gubernatorial campaign. LePage, Maine’s first Republican governor in 16 years, has taken a strong stand in favor of charter schools, which are set up to improve the performances of students who don’t do well in traditional schools.
A bill that awaits final action would allow no more than 10 public charter schools in the first 10 years. It also would limit the number of students who can attend them in the first three years to protect smaller noncharter public schools.
In a pitch for charter schools Friday, LePage said he would sign the bill if it’s sent to him.
“This is about giving students choices in their education that will help them succeed,” LePage said. “Every student deserves an education that works for him or her, and public charter schools, which are approved and working in 40 other states, are one more way we can reach those children.”
Also awaiting final action is a bill to allow sales of fireworks. A measure that’s won preliminary House approval creates a regulatory framework for the legal sales and use of so-called consumer fireworks, which include firecrackers, morning glories and other explosive products but not the types of fireworks that light the sky for the public on the Fourth of July. The bill would not take effect until September.
Another pending bill addresses the contentious issue of Canadian loggers working in Maine forests. It seeks income tax credits for logging companies that employ Maine residents. An amendment seeks credits instead for tax paid on fuel used for logging.
Those are in addition to the bills set aside to compete for a share of roughly $600,000 in funding. The Appropriations Committee plans to return next Thursday to make preliminary decisions on what gets funded.