This afternoon Governor LePage’s finance chief briefed lawmakers on a plan to restore $21 million to the state’s rainy day fund. The governor wants his plan fast-tracked before he’ll agree to release some job-creating bonds.
Tuesday, LePage called lawmakers “irresponsible” and “incompetent” for raiding the state’s budget stabilization fund, also known as the rainy day fund, to restore municipal revenue sharing to Maine municipalities. He says that hurts Maine’s credit rating and he vowed to not release transportation bonds until the money is put back.
Finance Commissioner Sawin Millet told lawmakers on the state’s budget writing committee how the governor plans to restore the rainy day funds. The plan calls for the use of roughly $10 million of unspent money meant for general purpose aid to public schools and a little more than $11 million in projected savings in the state’s retiree health insurance program.
“I didn’t want to duplicate anything you had in your documents. So these two happened to be the two simplest to explain and non-duplicative ideas that we had at the time to total at least the $21 million,” Millet told the committee Friday.
Maine House Speaker Mark Eves didn’t appear to have major objections to the LePage plan, but did take exception to the strategy of withholding bonds, saying the two issues have nothing to with each other.
“We want to make sure that we’re doing a prudent, thoughtful approach to our budget negotiations. The Appropriations Committee has been working very hard. This is new information. We’re going to take a look at it. But again, we’re glad the governor is at the table albeit the 11th hour,” Eves said.
The governor says as soon as his proposal is passed, and the rainy day fund is made whole, he’ll release the bonds that everyone at the state house says will help stimulate job growth.