Democrats Calling On LePage To Release Voter Approved Bond Money
Democrats in Augusta are demanding Governor LePage release $129 million worth of voter approved bonds immediately.Democratic leadership said the governor has been sitting on the bonds for 120 days.At a press conference Thursday, Democrats accused the governor of preventing the investment of $296 million in state and federal dollars into Maineâ€™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. â€œThe governor must stop disrespecting the will of Maine people,â€ said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham. â€œThese bonds won the support of Maine voters and would already be boosting our economy and creating jobs if he had not taken them hostage.â€ Those bonds are earmarked for several projects throughout the state that Democrats say would put Mainers to work immediately. “It’s infuriating that he would stand in the way of putting Maine people back to work,” said Aroostook County Democratic Senator Troy Jackson. “This is what we’re asking for today is to stop the rhetoric, quit kidding around, making up these false excuses and let the people work in this state.”Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan told reporters LePage needs to act now on the bonds in order to put those projects out to bid. â€œThe construction season is around the corner and we need to move on these projects. We canâ€™t afford to lose this opportunity to put Mainers – our friends, neighbors and family — back to work,â€ McCabe said.The governor has said he won’t release the bonds until lawmakers pass his hospital repayment plan, which Democrats have criticized for, among other reasons, its reliance on bond money to pay the hospital debt. Republican Alex Willette accuses the Democrats of having no interest in repaying the hospitals. “Democrats have continuously shown that paying off the hospital debt is not a major priority of theirs.Â Instead, they want to raise taxes on Maineâ€™s working class to enable DHHS cost overruns,” Willette said.Â “We must do the fiscally responsible thing: we must do the right thing and pay our bills before increasing our debt.â€Â Â Republicans say the Democrats are the ones stalling Maine’s economy by not passing the governor’s proposal. “Actually I support the Democrats’ call on releasing the bond money because, quite frankly, the governor is going to do that as soon as they get the hospital paid,” said Republican House Minority Leader Ken Fredette. “What this really shows is that we have an agreement. The agreement is that we want to get this money it on to the economy. Quite frankly the Democrats are the ones holding up that process.”Public hearings on LePage’s hospital repayment plan are scheduled for Monday.