AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine House failed three times on Wednesday to produce the necessary two-thirds majority votes required to override Republican Paul LePage’s vetoes of bills that he said conflict with his education reform agenda.
The governor vetoed the three Democrat-sponsored bills, LD 671, 670 and 1144, Tuesday night.
In his veto letter, LePage criticized LD 671, An Act To Protect Charter Schools by Requiring Them To Be Operated as Nonprofit Organizations, for being a tool wielded by school administrators, the state teachers union and Democrats to undermine school reform plans he initiated with the previous GOP-controlled Legislature.
“This bill, like many others, is part of a coordinated effort to maintain the educational status quo and prevent students from options that fit their needs,” wrote LePage. “Rather than follow the lead of other states and accept public charter schools as an option, some are focused on preventing their establishment.”
Rep. Matthea Daughtry, D-Brunswick, who sponsored the bill, was adamant that it was not anti-charter. “It’s unfortunate that the governor and this chamber decided to side with out-of-state for-profit interests rather than the future of our children,” she said Wednesday in urging House members to override LePage’s veto.
A total of 97 House members sided with Daughtry, but that vote tally fell four votes short of the threshold required for an override. Four Republicans joined all of the House Democrats and independents in voting to override LePage’s veto.
The two other education-related bills that died Wednesday were LD 670, which was designed to encourage higher education students to take career interest tests prior to registering for classes at Maine community colleges universities or at Maine Maritime Academy, and LD 1144, which proposed changes in the implementation of performance evaluation systems for educators.
With the Senate on Monday night and Tuesday afternoon sustaining two more vetoes LePage issued Tuesday, the Democratically-controlled Legislature has now upheld every one of the Republican governor’s more than 20 vetoes this session.
The Senate votes killed bills that would have given equipment sales tax exemptions or refunds to U.S. loggers and that would have reduced the time that insurance companies have to respond to prior authorization requests for certain prescription drug programs from two days to one day.