Release the bonds to start jobs now, Democrats tell LePage

Voter approved bonds would generate over 3,200 jobs immediately

March 7th, 2013 · Filed under: Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Economy · No Comments

“The governor must stop disrespecting the will of Maine people,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry. “These bonds won the support of Maine voters and would already be boosting our economy and creating jobs if he had not taken them hostage.”

Democratic leaders on Thursday called on Governor Paul LePage to stop holding voter-approved bonds dating back to 2010. Democrats noted that the Governor has artificially and arbitrarily linked his liquor proposal to releasing bonds that have already won voter approval. The bond investment would boost Maine’s economy and its middle class by putting people back to work immediately.

“For more than three years the people of Maine have given the green light to jumpstart our economy and put Mainers back to work. And, instead, the governor is stalling economic opportunity for the state of Maine,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall of Richmond. “Today, we are calling for an end to the political rhetoric and to set the record straight about putting people back to work.”

LePage has prevented the investment of $296 million in state and federal dollars into Maine’s economy for more than 796 days. Voters approved the bonds more than two and half years ago in November 2010 and again in November 2012.

Last week, during a radio appearance , Governor LePage accused lawmakers of “playing games” as he repeatedly promised to veto every bill that crosses his desk, including his own bills, until the legislature passes his liquor contract scheme. LePage added that he would only release the voter-approved bonds once the legislature paid the hospitals.

Goodall added, “The governor has essentially given the legislature and the people of Maine a ransom note–‘pass my liquor bill and I will release the bonds.’ If the governor is as truly invested in getting more than 3,200 people back to work as he says he is, then he will release the bonds immediately. In fact he could do it by close of business today.”

The projects stalled by the governor’s hijacking of the bonds include those in areas like transportation, higher education, construction, and clean water improvements. In some cases, the projects could make use of a 5-to-1 federal match.

The projects include funding for community and dental health clinics, roads and bridges, conservation, Maine’s working waterfront, redevelopment of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, and historic preservation in Maine’s downtowns.

Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan noted that communities around the state are awaiting the release of the bonds so they can move forward with stalled projects. Rural towns like Dover-Foxcroft, Eastport, Livermore Falls, Norway, Belfast, and Monmouth are among the communities that could benefit from the release of bonds. Additionally, seaports like Eastport and Searsport could see $1.5 million and $17 million respectively from a 2012 voter-approved bond.

“The construction season is around the corner and we need to move on these projects. We can’t afford to lose this opportunity to put Mainers – our friends, neighbors and family — back to work,” McCabe said.

According to the Associated General Contractors, Maine’s unemployment rates in the construction trades are among the highest in New England.

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash posed the question, “How many unemployment checks have gone out between then and now?” referencing the 796 days since the first bond package was approved by the legislature and Maine voters.

Jackson added, “The people of Maine should not be subject to intimidation by the governor of Maine.”

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