Maine's state government shutdown ends after budget signed
State went into civil emergency state after Legislature failed to sign budget last week
The three-day government shutdown in Maine ended early Tuesday morning after Gov. Paul LePage signed a new budget, according to a statement from his office.
The shutdown had closed all non-emergency government functions, prompting protests from state employees in Augusta.
LePage had declared a state of civil emergency in the absence of an approved biennial budget by the state Legislature. That civil emergency state began July 1 after the Legislature failed to sign a budget into law by June 30, the last day of Maine’s fiscal year.
LePage, a Republican, submitted his budget to the Legislature in January. Expecting a budget standoff, he signed an executive order Friday directing state departments and agencies to take necessary steps for a state government shutdown.
But on Tuesday morning, LePage announced on Twitter: “The Maine state government shutdown is now over. Happy Fourth of July!”
The key contention for the governor was over taxes.
LePage met Monday afternoon with House Republicans and pledged to sign a budget that eliminated an increase in the lodging tax from 9 to 10.5 percent, according to the statement from the governor’s office.
Once the lodging tax hike was off the table, negotiations sped up as the state House voted 147-2 and the Senate 35-0 for the new budget.
“I thank legislators for doing the right thing by passing a budget that does not increase taxes on the Maine people,” said LePage in a statement. “I especially thank the House Republicans for standing strong throughout these very tough budget negotiations to protect Mainers from an unnecessary tax hike.”
LePage said the state government would reopen and resume normal operations.
“This unnecessary shutdown needed to come to an end,” Speaker of the Maine House Sara Gideon, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Legislators and LePage struck a compromise on the state’s $7.1-billion that included what Gideon called, “the largest investment in public education in our state’s history.”
New Jersey also ended its state government shutdown after state leaders reached a deal late Monday.
CNN’s Laura Ly and Emanuella Grinberg contributed to this report.