Senate Democrats vote unanimously to avoid state shutdown
Jackson, Libby urge LePage to act quickly to avoid harm to Maine families
AUGUSTA — All 17 members of the Senate Democratic caucus voted Friday to advance a budget to Gov. Paul LePage’s desk and avoid a government shutdown. The total roll call vote to advance the $7.1 billion biennial budget was 34-1.
The current biennial budget expires at midnight tonight. If a new budget is not enacted by then, a government shutdown will occur. Thousands and thousands of state workers will be sent home without pay, and others will be forced to continue working without pay for the length of a shutdown.
House Republicans in a preliminary vote on Friday withheld the two-thirds support necessary to advance the budget. Meanwhiles, Gov. Paul LePage has threatened to drag his feet if the budget does hit his desk before midnight, saying he will wait 10 days to act on the budget, all but guaranteeing a shutdown.
Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash said that Democrats were not voting for the budget, but against a shutdown.
“I hate this budget,” said Sen. Jackson. “I hate it for ignoring the will of the voters and for cutting education funding so that we can give a tax cut to the rich. But I hate the prospect of a government shutdown even more. I know what it means to lose a paycheck. I know what it means to live in a state of uncertainty, to not know when or how that next paycheck will come. I know what it means for a father to look his son in the eyes and wonder whether he’ll be able to provide for them the way he knows he should. That is the fate we are bestowing on thousands and thousands of Maine families if we don’t put a budget on the governor’s desk. And I cannot allow my hate for this budget to cloud my vision, and force me to vote in a way that would hurt all those families.”
Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Nate Libby of Lewiston urged Gov. Paul LePage and House Republicans to act responsibly to avert an unnecessary and unforced crisis.
“Democrats in the upper chamber despise this budget just as much as Republicans in the lower chamber, but for very different reasons,” said Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Nate Libby of Lewiston “The Senate has done its job, now it’s time for House Republicans and the governor to do theirs. We cannot take our hate for this budget out on the thousands of Maine families who would face calamity if we fail to do our jobs. But those who forced terrible policy into this budget should know that our fight is not over, and once the continued stability of our state is secured, we will be back and fighting for working class families with every fiber of our being.”