AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill to make technical corrections to the controversial $6.3 billion biennial budget bill passed late last month failed by several votes in the House early Tuesday but was revived in both the House and Senate late that night and sent to Gov. Paul LePage.
Defeat of the bill — which is still possible if LePage vetoes it — could cause a $6 million budget gap over the biennium. Now that the Legislature has adjourned for the summer, further action on the bill will wait until they reconvene.
LD 1572 makes several corrections to the budget bill, but according to Republicans who opposed the bill, a provision involving a temporary increase in the sales tax from 5 percent to 5.5 percent motivated their opposition. The correction in the bill made it clear that the sales tax increase was meant to apply only to items that are currently subject to the sales tax.
“This vote indicated that there are serious concerns within the Republican caucus about this bill,” said House Republican Leader Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport.
House Majority Leader Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, said he was disappointed with the 92-50 vote against the bill early Tuesday, which fell short of the two-thirds required to pass the emergency measure.
“We saw people back off of commitments they made previously,” said Berry. “This will have an impact on the budget and create a problem for Maine Revenue Services.”
Assistant House Minority Leader Alexander Willette, R-Mapleton, said there is hope among Republicans that improving state revenues will cover the revenue gap.