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By Jack Crowe
Maine lawmakers will vote on a budget plan Friday that includes a tax hike to pay for increased education funding, and the result of the vote will determine whether the government shuts down.
The two-year $7.1 million plan introduced Wednesday includes a 1.5 percent increase in the state’s lodging tax to pay for a $162 million increase in education funding. The plan also repeals a 3 percent additional tax on Maine residents making over $200,000 annually.
Maine Governor Paul LePage has threatened to enact a government shut down in response to any tax increase.
“I will tell you this: If they put a tax increase, ready for a shutdown. End of story,” LePage said in a Thursday interview on Maine’s WGAN radio.
“They’re playing chicken at 100 miles per hour, and I’m telling you something: You want to play chicken, let’s play chicken, ” LePage said referring to lawmakers’ efforts to stall the budget process. “A shutdown is necessary for the future of Maine,” he added.
LePage issued an emergency order Thursday mandating the continued operation of certain essential services in the event of a government shutdown. The list of essential services includes prisons, psychiatric hospitals, law enforcement agencies and state park services.
The governor said if a Declaration of Civil Emergency is issued it will take effect at 12:01 a.m. EST on June 1 and continue until 12 a.m. EST July 3 unless it is terminated by the governor prior to that date.