The Maine House is divided along party lines over how to fund a program that gives National Guard soldiers and airmen free tuition in Maine's public higher education system.

Republicans say the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System can pay for their tuition out of their existing tax-supported budgets, and that soldiers and airmen will be filling otherwise vacant seats. Democrats want to fund the program using $600,000 from surplus liquor revenues.

The House on Wednesday tabled the issue after a long and heated floor debate. Republicans accused Democrats of unfairly surprising them with the funding plan. Democrats said the Republicans want to force Maine's already beleaguered public colleges to pick up the tab. (AP)