(Augusta, ME) – After days of general agreement between the parties on how best to spend more than $1 billion in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Democrats suddenly announced that they had decided to change their plans, abandon our agreements, and introduce new spending proposals that they knew would not be acceptable to Republicans.
By intentionally sabotaging weeks of negotiations and agreements, Democratic leaders have forced a 90 day delay in the use of these funds for the benefit of Maine people.
After having spent more than $8 billion on the latest two-year budget without any Republican involvement, then another $1.17 billion in budget surplus through bipartisan agreement, Democrats found another $80 million in spending that they just could not live without. In addition, they chose to insert language that would pay back their labor union friends by favoring them in state-funded projects through “project labor agreements.”
Rather than accept the agreed upon plan, Democrats chose to undermine our agreements and walk away from a done deal.
The Legislature voted to pass the bipartisan Supplemental Budget at its last meeting on July 1. We have been in agreement that the session scheduled for Monday, July 19 was to approve funding for the American Rescue Plan Act and nothing more. Now, Democrats are attempting to reopen a budget we put to rest in a bipartisan manner just two weeks ago.
Senate Republican Leader Timberlake: “After spending more than $11 billion in state and federal money in the last eight months, we have reached the point where enough is enough. If the Democrats still have not given money to every pet project they support, they have a serious problem with their spending addiction. You really can reach a point where you have to just say ‘stop.’”
Assistant Senate Republican Leader Pouliot: “Our children and grandchildren will be paying higher taxes to cover this spending for generations to come, and there are already signs that it is creating dangerous inflation that will hurt all of us in the near future. At some point someone has to inject fiscal sanity into the discussion and we have reached that point.”
Sen. Paul Davis, Lead Republican on the Appropriations Committee: “It is awfully disappointing to work so hard for many months and come to an agreement, only to have the rug pulled out from under the process at the last minute. We finalized the budget at our last meeting. To try to crack it back open now in order to pass a few partisan bills and appease a handful of special interests is wrong and does not benefit the people of Maine.”
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