Union battles stretche to Maine

Union leaders in Maine are ready to square off with Governor Paul LePage and the state's Appropriations Committee in a battle over retirement benefits.

The Associated Press reports Governor LePage recently announced a new plan that would reportedly alter the pension system and save the state $524 million in the short-term and cut the state's budget deficit in half to $2.2 billion.

Should the measure pass, union members would be responsible for a greater share of their benefits and pensions, while the retirement age would increase and cost-of-living raises would be marginalized. Union supporters say the decision is being made without proper consultation on their behalf.

"It is unreasonable for state employees to entirely bear the burden of decisions we had no hand in making," said Richard Behr, a Department of Environmental Protection employee in Vassalboro, told the AP.

LePage acknowledged that the increases could hurt income levels in the short-term, but that if the bill is not passed, pension expenses could reach $1.5 billion over the next two years and consume 25 percent of the state's general revenue fund.  

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