House Democratic Office
March 8, 2013
REP. MCCABE: GOVERNOR MUST RESPECT THE WILL OF VOTERS, RELEASE BONDS TO STIMULATE ECONOMY
Good morning. I’m Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan. Thank you for tuning in.
Maine’s economy needs a jump start. Fifty-thousands of our friends and neighbors remain out of work.
We have a sure-fire way to give our economy a shot in the arm and create jobs. Maine voters have approved bonds that would pump nearly $300 million dollars of investment into our state economy.
The problem is that Governor Paul LePage is holding these bonds hostage. He is refusing to release these bonds until he gets his way on his liquor contract proposal. This is no way to perform the work that Maine people elected us to do.
The governor has arbitrarily and artificially linked the release of voter-approved bonds to his convoluted plan for the state’s wholesale liquor business and the final debt payment to our hospitals.
It’s a debt that Democrats take seriously – so much so that we improved the payment system to ensure further debt does not occur.
Maine has been paying the hospitals steadily and increasingly. Maine has already paid more than $3.7 billion to hospitals over the past decade.
These bonds the governor is holding hostage are in no way related to the governor’s liquor plan. But he insists on pretending that they are.
These are bipartisan bond packages that the Legislature passed by a two-thirds vote before sending them out to the voters. Some of these bonds by a Republican-controlled Legislature.
Maine voters approved the bonds at the polls in 2010 and 2012. The governor must stop disrespecting the will of Maine people.
Instead, he has essentially handed the Legislature and Maine voters a ransom note. It’s one that reads, “I have your bonds. If you ever expect to see their benefit, you better give me what I want.”
These bonds should already be boosting our economy and creating jobs in areas like transportation, higher education construction and clean water improvements.
These bonds are worth much more than their $105 million face value. For some of these projects, we could be taking advantage of a 5:1 federal match. There’s also the priceless value of getting our economy moving.
I’d like to tell you about the kinds of projects the governor has stalled:
· community health and dental clinics that keep our people healthy – and more productive in the workplace;
· improved roads and bridges to facilitate commerce;
· the seaports and airports needed for travel and to ship and receive goods;
· conservation that protects our natural resources – a vital part of our heritage that draws visitors to our state;
· historic preservation that can help our downtowns thrive;
· and investments in higher education to help Maine compete for the jobs of tomorrow.
Communities around our state are waiting for these investments. They include rural towns where the local economies are in particular need of a boost.
Maine voters – whether they went to the polls in Calais or Kittery – did not know our chief executive would disregard their voices in this way. How could they have possibly anticipated such a thing?
We need to move on these projects. Spring and construction season are almost here. We can’t afford to lose this opportunity to put Mainers to work and spur our economy.
We can’t let our resources continue to crumble. Our state has the most highway miles in New England, but they’re funded at the lowest level per mile. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave our roads a grade of “D.”
Our unemployment rates in the construction trades are among the highest in New England. How many more unemployment checks have to be issued before the governor releases these voter-approved bonds?
He could do it anytime he wants. It would only take a stroke of his pen.
This is Assistant House Majority Jeff McCabe. Thank you for listening.