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Via Maine Senate and House Democrats came the following press release late Thursday night:

LEPAGE RENEGES ON STATEWIDE JOBS BOND CONTRACTS
Seven months after authorization, Governor changes mind

Augusta – In an email to State Treasurer Neria Douglass, Governor Paul LePage reneged and cancelled his authorization of nearly $100 million in bond monies for projects across Maine.

Douglass shared the message with the state’s budget writing committee on Thursday afternoon during a previously scheduled briefing on the state’s debt service or interest for the bonds.

“Governor LePage has broken a $59 million contract with businesses and workers across Maine. The line has been crossed when the governor’s emotional volatility starts hurting Maine’s economy and Maine’s workers,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “I am concerned for the businesses and projects that have started their work and now hear that the governor has changed his mind.”

According to Douglass, per the directive from Governor LePage, she has already issued $59 million in funding from the state’s cash pool to help fund key projects in the administration’s work plan. These projects were approved and signed off on by Governor LePage and his department officials on July 31, 2013.

“The Treasurer raised serious concerns about the message the Governor is sending to credit agencies and businesses. He’s broken his word,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe from Skowhegan. “Worse, he’s playing games with critical investments in construction projects like roads and bridges that will help Maine’s economy.”

LePage has a track record of using bonds as political leverage with the Legislature. He refused to issue the voter-approved economic investments during his first two years in office, stifling economic growth and job creation.

Two weeks ago, during a Maine Chamber of Commerce event, LePage threatened again to withhold bonds if the Legislature passed a measure restoring the state’s funding promise to towns and cities across Maine. Both bodies of the Legislature passed the measure with overwhelming bipartisan support, reaching a veto-proof, two-thirds passage with votes of 33 — 2 in the Senate and 120 — 17 in the House.

Maine now ranks 50th among all other states in private sector job growth since January 2011, according to the Maine Center for Economic Policy’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Data.

Below is the email that Treasurer Neria Douglass sent Governor LePage on February 10th:

From: Douglass, Neria R
Sent: Monday, February 10, 2014 5:03 PM
To: Millett, Sawin; Butera, John
Subject: Bonds in FY2014

Hello, Sawin and John.

I am concerned that recent newspaper reports state that the Governor is now saying he will not go to market and will withhold state bonds.

So far the Treasurer’s Cash Pool has expended $52,114,073 in funds that will have to be replaced by the sale of bonds before the end of this fiscal year. We have requests for $84,042,798 that include $21 million for Transportation, together with a long list of other projects. Maine Maritime, the University of Maine, and the Maine Community Colleges are moving forward with projects that I expected to fund from the TCP and then reimburse from the sale of bonds.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this problem. I am reluctant to continue funding while these statements are being made publically. Of course underwriters and others read the newspapers too.

Best,
Neria

Neria R Douglass JD CIA
Maine State Treasurer

Here is the reply Douglass received this morning and shared with Democratic leadership, as referred to in the above press release:

From: Mullen, Micki
Date: February 19, 2014, 8:45 AM EST
To: Douglass, Neria R
CC: Butera, John , Millett, Sawin , Newman, Kathleen
Subject: FW: Bonds in FY2014
Treasurer Douglas,
The Governor responded to your email as follows:

Neria,
I will not approve going to market until there is $60 MM in the Rainy Day Fund. I will not subject the state to further credit reduction. In the past the Treasurer would keep the Governor updated on cash expenditures, you have chosen not to.

Governor Paul R. LePage

Thank you,

Micki

Micki Mullen
Executive Assistant to Governor Paul R. LePage
State House Station #1
Augusta, Maine 04333-0001
Phone: 207-287-3531
Fax: 207-287-1034
Visit: http://www.maine.gov

(Originally posted on Maine Progressives Warehouse)

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