AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The new Maine Legislature officially started work today. Governor Paul LePage administered the oath of office to new Representatives in the House and then the new members of the Senate.
The Governor made a few comments about the political "tracker" issue that caused him to cancel a meeting with Democratic leaders on Tuesday. Speaking in the Senate he called the use of trackers by the political parties "vile, vulgar and vicious". But then the Governor pledged to try to work with lawmakers, saying they all were elected to work in the best interests of the people of Maine.
Democrats now control the Legislature, after the past two years of Republican rule. Democratic Speaker of the House Mark Eves told legislators they all need to work together to fix the state's problems. Eves said,"the challenge we face is too big for one party." He and the Governor both said Energy and Education will be key issues, but Eves also brought up health care and jobs.Republican leaders agreed with all those, and said the, despite being in the minority, their votes would still matter.
Democrats will need Republicans for any required two-third majority votes, which include some budget votes, bond issue votes and veto over-rides. Sen. Mike Thibodeau, the Senate Republican Leader, said "we're not going to do anything without the Democrats, and the Democrats aren't going to do anything without us. "
Their first tests will be dealing with the $35.5 million dollar shortfall in tax revenue for this year's budget, and the $100 million shortfall in the current Medicaid budget. Both will be addressed by supplemental budget proposals from the Governor, which are expected in January.