Republican Leader Accuses Democrats Of Stalling Bond Package To “Derail” LePage Reelection Bid
Lawmakers were back at the state house Monday to deal with the record number of vetoes handed down by Governor LePage.More than 80 bills have been vetoed this session by the governor, including a remarkable 21 in a 24-hour stretch.”Well, clearly the governor has gone on a veto rampage,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry, a Bowdoinham Democrat. “He’d already set records on the number of vetoes overall and now I think he’s setting records on numbers of vetoes in a day.”Democrats were mostly unsuccessful in their attempts to override the governor’s vetoes. Among those that failed to garner the necessary 2/3 vote required to override was a measure that would have required large food companies to be more transparent in their use of the toxic chemical BPA.The partisan rhetoric was once again ratcheted up when talk shifted to a $100 million transportation bond package proposed by the governor months ago. The bill provides $100 million for reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities or equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation and transit. The money would be matched by an estimated $154 million in federal and other funds.A statement released by LePage Monday called the bond package “critical” to job growth.Construction unemployment in Maine is currently at 26 percent. A $100 million bond would support an estimated 2,800 good paying jobs in construction and related industries. Republicans, who called the bond package the most important thing on the agenda, are accusing Democrats of having an ulterior motive when it comes to expediting the process. House Republican Leader Ken Fredette says his party wants the governor’s bond package voted on now. Monday, Democrats pushed the vote back until November when it will be packaged with other bond initiatives.”Democrats want to slow it down so that they can slow down construction in Maine. I don’t understand that,” Fredette said.” Fredette took it one step further accusing Democrats of jeopardizing jobs to satisfy their spending addiction and to “derail” the governor’s reelection bid by weakening job growth. “But it’s not just a spending addiction that’s driving the Democrats’ obstructionism. It’s the 2014 election and the prospect of retaking the Blaine House. All year, they have been playing a frenzied political game to take credit for everything that happens in Augusta,” Fredette said. “I think they want to play politics with this so these jobs are not out there in the economy in 2014. I hope that’s not the case.”Democrats call that accusation appalling and hypocritical.“While Gov. LePage has held these critical job-creating investments hostage, Republicans were silent,” said House Speaker Mark Eves. “While LePage held these bonds hostage, Maine earned the rank of third worst in the nation for job creation. Yet Republicans sat silently. Now, on the last day of the Legislature’s work, House Republicans demand $100 million dollars in new special borrowing just for the Governor? The same Governor who held up voter-approved bonds to fix our roads and bridges and to rebuild our communities for more than two years? This is a political stunt.”Other Democratic leaders have called the Republicans sudden about-face on bonding a welcome change. “I welcome the new found Republican interest in bonding,” Berry said. “I think it’s great. For over two years bonds that have been approved by voters have been held up $300 million in investments that should be out there on the street generating jobs in this construction season has been held up and it’s unfortunate.”Lawmakers could be back on Wednesday to take up more Lepage vetoes.