Gov. LePage is playing games with voter-approved job bonds

Sen. Troy Jackson, Special to The County
10 years ago

    Beginning with his first day in office, Gov. LePage has branded himself as a shrewd businessman, a so-called “turnaround specialist” willing to make the tough choices in order to move the state’s economy forward.

   His actions have not lived up to his words, and in fact, his erratic behavior is hurting our state and our workers — most notably the games he plays with voter-approved jobs bonds.

    Last month, Gov. LePage reneged on voter-approved bonds that he had previously released. Shovel-ready projects are now on hold, as businesses and workers wait to see what Gov. LePage will do. Right here in Aroostook County, NMCC will have to wait and see if they will have funds for their new laboratory or not.

    Gov. LePage’s top budget officer told legislative leaders that if the governor does not re-release the bonds within the next two weeks, projects for the Department of Transportation will not go out to bid and will miss this year’s construction season.

    We all know the importance of bonds for strengthening our economy and creating jobs. When Maine ranks as 48th in the country for private sector job growth, we can’t afford Gov. LePage’s games.

    Even more galling is that while Gov. LePage withholds vital investments for our state, he doesn’t offer any new solutions — just failed gimmicks already rejected by everyone, including members of his own party.

    Earlier this month, Gov. LePage paid a visit to Brunswick to sell his new project — a rejected, recycled effort to hurt unions and workers by passing right-to-work laws. In addition to imposing right-to-work laws at Brunswick Landing, he also has plans to push this agenda on Limestone.

 What Aroostook County needs most is good-paying jobs with benefits, and this will not happen in a right-to-work environment. Both union and nonunion workers earn $1,500 less per year in right-to-work states than in states that allow unions, and employees are less likely to receive health care and pension benefits through their jobs in right-to-work states.

    Right to work was a bad idea 60 years ago when Maine voters first rejected it, it was a bad idea last session when the Republican-controlled Legislature rejected it, it was a bad idea last year when the Democratic-controlled Legislature rejected it, and it is still a bad idea today.

    Gov. LePage likes to say that capital goes where it is welcome and stays where it is appreciated. The fact is that Maine workers go where they are welcome and stay where they are appreciated.

    Ever since I was first elected, my priority has been to keep good jobs in Aroostook County and all of Maine and I know that if good paying jobs leave this state, our young people will follow.
    Playing games with voter-approved bonds is yet another move from Gov. LePage’s political playbook. Working people, and those who are looking for work, deserve better than that.

   Sen. Troy Jackson is majority leader of the Maine Senate. He can be reached at either 398-4081 (home) or 436-0763 (cell), or via email at SenTroy.Jackson@legislature.maine.gov.