Healthcare bill awaits CBO ruling before heading to Senate


"I am on the whip team and we have a lot of conversations, but we have not had that one".

The Senate President and House Speaker appoint the members of the conference committee, who meet to hash out the details of a bill.

The Republican-controlled Legislature is having trouble agreeing on the details of a plan for raising new revenue.

A death with dignity bill is advancing through the Maine Legislature, but will face a likely veto from the Republican governor. It is possible the Senate could fix that issue, but it is possible the House would have to, he said.

The Senate's version aims to raise the sales tax at the start of the new fiscal year while lowering the personal income tax six months later, resulting in a revenue cushion to balance the coming year's budget.

That is now under discussion, Johnson says.

"It still is somewhat short in filling the gap, but it could shield drastic budget cuts when we go to put a budget together", he said.

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The proposal originated in the House, and Republican Rep. Kristey Williams told the Senate committee that eliminating sales tax exemptions would broaden the tax base. Tax revenue from retail store purchases is declining, he said, as online purchasing grows.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, said in a statement: "As the public heat continues to rise, more and more members are getting scorched for walking the plank for a bill that has no chance of success in the Senate" or may have to be amended.

By afternoon the pace slowed considerably. "If these tax bills pass, the new taxation would be detrimental to the Northern Panhandle".

The Committee on Finance advanced the Committee Substitute for House Bill 107 in its Thursday meeting.

The House has a school finance formula bill - HB 2410 - that calls for $280 million in additional funding for schools in the next two-year budget.

A homeowner could pay $81 annually in utility surcharges to help fund the next K-12 school finance formula. His original proposal called for adding $3 to every residential utility bill in the state and $10 to each commercial bill.

Over five years, the bill would generate about $135 million for the state general fund.

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"We have in no way resolved what we want to spend on schools, and my fear, just to speak rather bluntly, is that somebody's trying to basically get rid of exit paths", said Sen. At least eight Senate Democrats will be required to join Republicans in approving the bill in that case.

Supporters say Maine's mining laws and regulations don't match, and warn that inscrutable mining companies could exploit the situation to the detriment of the state's environment and tourism industry. "I'll vote in favor of the bill, but I don't think it goes far enough".

"The whole situation remains very fluid right now", he said before 4 p.m.

The bill also keeps in the historic tax credit for businesses.

The Senate's bill sets the consumer sales tax at 6.95 percent, which includes digital products under the sales tax umbrella. "I love the idea of getting rid of the state's income tax".

He said he hopes to take action on those proposals on Monday, if they are available.

Nonetheless, the legislation (House Bill 107) received near-unanimous bipartisan support in committee, if only as a way to try to spur budget negotiations with state government 43 days away from a July 1 partial shutdown.

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