AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would allow a school district to bypass any local requirements that a school superintendent live within district boundaries.
The veto of LD 6, LePage’s fourth of the legislative session, came the same day the Maine House failed to override LePage’s third veto, which he issued Friday. That bill would have allowed towns and cities to charge up to $2 more than they now can to process new or existing motor vehicle registrations.
An amended version of LD 6, sponsored by Rep. Alan Casavant, D-Biddeford, passed the House without opposition on April 25 and passed the Senate 28-6 on April 30.
The bill stemmed from a situation in Biddeford in which the city’s school system hired a superintendent who lives in Saco. That violated a Biddeford requirement that the city’s school superintendent live in the city.
“State government should not lightly put itself above the decisions of local voters when it comes to their municipal charters,” LePage wrote in his veto message. “This bill would override the decisions of Maine voters who have intentionally added these requirements in their charters.
“My concerns are especially strong when it comes to Biddeford, where the voters had this issue directly before them and chose to keep these charter provisions,” he wrote. “I have received scores of letters from them encouraging this veto, and I am acting on their behalf.”
Casavant, the bill’s sponsor, is also Biddeford’s mayor.
“This bill puts the authority for decisions about superintendents back where it belongs: with local elected school officials,” he said in a statement. “They know that to do right by the children they serve, they need to attract the most qualified superintendent candidates.”
Casavant also is the sponsor of the last bill LePage vetoed, LD 405.
House members voted 88-55 Tuesday to override LePage’s veto of LD 405, falling short of the needed two-thirds threshold.
The bill passed the House 89-57 and the Senate 24-11 late last month, largely along party lines with most Democrats supporting the measure and most Republicans opposing it.
In his veto message issued Friday, LePage criticized lawmakers for passing “minor bills” without widespread support “when they are likely to receive a veto on my desk” and “while the real issues — paying our hospitals and balancing our budget — continue to languish.”
“The problems we face in Maine do not stem from a lack of government taking money from its citizens,” he wrote.
During brief floor debate Tuesday, Casavant said he submitted the bill as an attempt to help cities and towns tap revenue sources other than property taxes.
“If I can find any way possible to have users pay fees, certainly I am going to do that,” Casavant said, emphasizing that his bill made the fee increase optional.
House Republican Leader Rep. Ken Fredette of Newport labeled LD 405 a tax increase and urged legislators to sustain the veto. House Democratic Leader Rep. Seth Berry of Bowdoinham characterized the veto as an assault on local control and an attempt by LePage to shift Maine’s tax burden to cities and towns.
LePage previously vetoed bills that would have banned the use of tanning beds by people younger than 18 years old and a measure designed to standardize payment practices for government agencies and businesses dealing with county registries of deeds.