It happens every two years: lawmakers come close to finalizing a budget but one group holds out, saying they refuse to sign on to a compromise spending package because it doesn’t include their priorities. They raise the specter of a state shutdown.

This year, it is House Republican leaders who say they won’t agree to a compromise budget if it doesn’t include tax cuts and welfare reforms. When a line like this is drawn in the sand, compromise is difficult, if not impossible.

“House Republicans want to stand on the principles that are important to the Republican Party, such as smaller government, welfare reform and income tax cuts,” said House Minority Leader Ken Fredette late Sunday night, after Senate leaders from both parties and House Democrats announced the outlines of a budget deal. “I will fight tooth and nail to defeat a majority budget on the House floor so that we can bring that budget back [to the Appropriations Committee] to have a meaningful conversation.”

Principles are important, but so is compromise. The governor’s tax reform plan has been discussed and debated for months. So, too, with the governor’s welfare reforms, some of which were rejected by previous legislatures.

Just because lawmakers don’t include something in the budget does not mean they didn’t give it full consideration. A major problem with Gov. Paul LePage’s tax cut plan was how he planned to cover the reductions in state revenue that come with lowering and eliminating taxes. His proposal to stop municipal revenue sharing was dead on arrival, as was his call to tax nonprofits.

An alternative Republican tax plan recognized this, but the Republican framework retained LePage’s plans to eliminate the estate tax and lower corporate income tax rates — both moves that research has shown do little to spur economic growth. The GOP plan would also raise the lodging and meals taxes to 9 percent under the erroneous notion that tourists from outside of Maine will absorb most of the burden. That might be true with the lodging tax, but the meals tax is charged in nice restaurants, in fast-food restaurants and on prepared foods in the grocery store.

With time running short — a budget for the next two years must be in place by June 30 — most legislative leaders have concluded that comprehensive tax reform won’t be part of the package. Instead, Senate Republican leaders have touted an agreement they reached with their Democratic colleagues to amend the state constitution to require a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to raise taxes. Since the state budget often requires a two-thirds vote to withstand a governor’s veto and to go into effect by June 30, Democratic leaders say this isn’t a big change.

While we applaud Senate and House Democratic negotiators for working together and reaching consensus, we don’t agree. First, the two-thirds language has been introduced and debated in the State House and been rejected. It was also part of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which Maine voters have rejected.

Second, if a two-thirds vote is needed to raise taxes, shouldn’t this same standard apply to tax cuts? Or better yet, lawmakers should continue to evaluate each spending and tax proposal on its merits.

Third, similar provisions making it difficult to raise taxes have not worked as intended in other states. California saw a proliferation of fees after voters there capped property tax increases and Colorado voters suspended parts of TABOR there when it constrained state spending during an economic downturn.

For all the bluster, expect a repeat of 2013, when House Republicans, including Fredette (who was subject to a withering attack from LePage), voted to override LePage’s veto of the two-year budget, even though it didn’t include their priorities.

The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...