AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine finance chief Richard Rosen resigned on Tuesday, surprising key legislators as they were making a final push to finalize a two-year budget with barely a week to go in the legislative session.
Rosen, a former legislator from Bucksport, was named commissioner of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services in 2015 after stints as a deputy commissioner in the budget department and directing Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s policy office.
His departure is another hurdle for legislators, who have presided over a dysfunctional budget process to date. The Legislature’s budget committee failed to produce a consensus budget recommendation amid a standoff between Republicans and Democrats over education funding.
On Tuesday, the Senate moved toward convening a six-member conference committee on the budget after the respective Republican and Democratic majorities passed different budget proposals along party lines.
Lawmakers must effectively pass a budget — which takes two-thirds votes in each chamber — by Friday, giving them time to get it to LePage before scheduled adjournment on June 21 and later return to override a likely veto.
In a statement, LePage announced Rosen’s resignation and appointed David Lavway, who was the finance bureau’s deputy commissioner of operations, as acting commissioner. David Heidrich, a spokesman for the department, said Rosen notified senior staff just before 3 p.m.
LePage spokespeople didn’t immediately answer questions about the resignation and Rosen didn’t respond to a request for comment through Heidrich.
Sen. James Hamper, R-Oxford, the co-chairman of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, said he’d just learned of Rosen’s departure while walking into a meeting with Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, just behind Senate Republicans’ budget aide Sawin Millett, who was Rosen’s predecessor.
Hamper said he was “still assessing” the impact on the budget process. Two other Republican budget committee members, Reps. Tom Winsor of Norway and Jeff Timberlake of Turner, said they had just learned about it after LePage’s announcement.
Senate Minority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, called Rosen’s departure “bad for the Legislature,” praising the departing finance chief for sharing accurate information with them and calling him “really, really decent to work with.”
“I don’t really know how you can replace somebody like that,” Jackson said.
BDN writer Christopher Cousins contributed to this report.