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AUGUSTA, Maine – A compromise budget signed by the Maine Senate hit a wall in the House of Representatives Thursday as Republicans withheld their votes to call for further corporate tax cuts.
The move forced lawmakers back to negotiating a tax cliff. Many companies that have received government aid for coronavirus have a registration deadline on Monday. Legislature agreed to completely waive taxes on federal paycheck protection program loans and exempt the first $ 10,200 of increased federal unemployment benefits for Mainers, but both will die without a settlement.
The $ 258 million package, which includes both cost cuts and spending on pandemics, was held up by an ongoing debate between Majority Democrats and minority Republicans over how much Maine should comply with federal tax law. They are about $ 32 million apart as Conservatives push for a list of relatively obscure and narrow federal tax breaks to be included in the state code.
A long line of Republican amendments were rejected by the House Democrats on Thursday before the 82-64 vote on the package. The majority party would need 98 votes to reach the two-thirds threshold that is ultimately required for the package to be passed.
It was clearly frustrating for the Democrats, who won the votes of two Senate Republicans late Wednesday after approving a move by Senator Brad Farrin, R-Norridgewock, that raised $ 113,000 in funding for veteran services to the Governor Janet Mills tried to cut out of the short. Runtime budget.
Senator Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, the Co-Chair of the Budgets Committee, expressed frustration with the vote, saying she doesn’t understand why Republicans held the line after Democrats granted the credit relief. She specifically pointed out a $ 8.4 million tax break on foreign income that would benefit an estimated 10 or fewer companies here.
“It just seems like a topic of conversation with no substance,” she said.
Sawin Millett MP, R-Waterford, a key member of the Committee on Budgets, argued during the floor debates for both parties to seek a compromise similar to that between the Democrats and Farrin.
“Nobody would argue that we have an obligation to everyone in our communities whose lives have been turned upside down in the calendar year,” he said. “And the more we can do to use the unique resources we have today, the better we can go back home today and say, ‘We tried to help.'”
The defeat of the measure leads to a long day of negotiations and an uncertain outcome for the stalemate, which neither party wants to hold out long enough for companies to see negative effects. The pandemic loan tax cut comes in at $ 100 million, while that for Mainers who were unemployed would cost the state $ 47 million.
The long series of votes was the first in 2021 as the pandemic changed legislative operations. They were also under attack as the center was only booked Wednesday and Thursday and MaineGeneral Health withdrew the municipal civic center on Friday to resume COVID-19 vaccination clinics, adding to the time constraints.