AUGUSTA — Speaker of the House Mark Eves on Tuesday night called a GOP effort to force a vote on Governor LePage’s new $100 million borrowing package an “eleventh-hour political stunt.”
House Republican Ken Fredette, R-Newport, unexpectedly attempted to force a vote on LePage’s bill late on the night of the Legislature’s final scheduled “veto day.”
“It’s frustrating and disappointing to see the Republicans pull this eleventh-hour political stunt,” said Eves, D-North Berwick. “If Republicans were serious about creating jobs through bonding, where were they when Governor LePage was holding bonds hostage for more than two-years?”
Since taking office, LePage has refused to release more than $100 million in voter-approved bonds, including more than $55 million in transportation investments.
“Democrats have long supported a bond plan to help fix our roads and bridges, invest in research and development, promote education, and protect our natural resource economy,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham. “We hope our Republican colleagues will put aside this partisan nonsense and do what’s right for the people of Maine.”
The Legislature will return in the coming months to take up critical investment measures.
“Suddenly, on the last day of legislative work, Republicans are joining Democrats in our effort to push for important job-creating bonds, but they did nothing as the Governor sat on many voter-approved bonds for years,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan. “Democrats are ready to work with Republicans on a thoughtful and comprehensive plan for bonding, but we won’t play a part in their political games.”
According to an email from Maine DOT Assistant Commissioner Bruce VanNote, any new bonds passed this year were unlikely to be put into shovel-ready projects until 2014, after the voter approved bonds held up by the governor are sold.
Lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — had previously agreed to carry-over all 32 bond proposals introduced this year totaling $1.3 billion. The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee will review these bonds over the summer and fall, including the $100 million proposal from the governor, and work on a comprehensive bipartisan plan for bonding that could be on the ballot in November and June.