Partial government shutdowns in Maine and New Jersey entered a second day on Sunday as lawmakers returned to their respective state capitals in a bid to break budget impasses that have led to the suspension of many nonessential services.
In Maine, a bipartisan legislative committee met in Augusta in hopes of breaking a stalemate between Republican Governor Paul LePage and Democratic lawmakers. The shutdown came after LePage threatened to veto a compromise reached by lawmakers in the state's $7.055 billion, two-year budget.
In New Jersey, the legislature was due to reconvene to resolve a political fight over a controversial bill that Governor Chris Christie said must be passed alongside the state's budget.
After House Republicans in Maine voted to reject a compromise deal on Saturday, the Bangor Daily News reported that Republican Minority Leader Ken Fredette presented a $7.1 billion plan he said could get the governor's approval, but some Democrats noted that was costlier than the rejected compromise.
A spokeswoman for the governor could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
"The Speaker thinks it is unconscionable that Maine doesn't have a budget, especially leading into the holiday weekend," Mary-Erin Casale, a spokeswoman for Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon, said Sunday morning.
If the budget committee meeting on Sunday in Augusta agrees on a deal, the measure would go to the full legislature.
LePage has insisted on a budget with deeper spending cuts than those contemplated by lawmakers and has promised to veto any spending plan that raises taxes.
The stalled budget proposal would have repealed a measure that voters approved in November to impose an additional 3 percent income tax on state residents who earn more than $200,000 a year. But it contained a 1.5 percent increase in the lodging tax, Casale said, while increasing funding for public education by $162 million.
State police, parks and all offices responsible for collecting revenue will operate during the current shutdown, the state's first since 1991.
New Jersey residents were not so lucky. With the July 4 holiday weekend in full swing, the shutdown included the closure of Island State Beach Park, one of New Jersey's few free public beaches, and all other state parks.