Phil Harriman and Ethan Strimling
AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Legislature spent Thursday working its way through a record number of vetoes from Governor Paul LePage. Some vetoes held up and were sustained. Others have been over-ridden, meaning they are passed into law, despite the Governor's objections.
The Governor has set a new record for total vetoes...nearly 180 of them since he took office. On Thursday, lawmakers were faced with 48 vetoes of bills they passed in the past few weeks. The most critical was a $32-million fix to the 2015 state budget. The Governor vetoed the budget, saying it was "full of gimmicks". However, Democrats and Republicans voted to override that veto by a wide margin – 134-12 in the House and 33-0 in the Senate. Bills to make tougher OUI penalties and protect lakes also survived vetoes. But other bills --including several more efforts to expand Medicaid – failed to get enough support.
The two parties see the veto issue very differently. Democrats say it proves the Governor is "irrelevant" to the legislative process. Republicans say the Governor is doing his job in standing up for issues like limited government.
Still not resolved by Thursday evening was the fate of two last-minute bills submitted by Gov. LePage. One would provide roughly $2 million to pay for more MDEA agents and judges to handle drug cases, as well as providing money for drug treatment. A bill to do those things passed the Legislature but was not funded. The second emergency measure would provide $5 million in funding for nursing homes facing financial problems. The budget and another bill also provide some added money for nursing homes, but not as quickly as the Governor says is needed. Legislative leaders could not predict whether they would deal with the bills before the adjourn.