House, Senate schedule session to consider LePage vetoes, even though he hasn’t issued any

Posted May 23, 2012, at 3:25 p.m.
Last modified May 23, 2012, at 7:50 p.m.
Gov. Paul LePage speaks in Rockland in March 2012.
Gov. Paul LePage speaks in Rockland in March 2012. Buy Photo

AUGUSTA, Maine — The House and Senate will return to Augusta on May 31 for a brief legislative session. The day is set aside for lawmakers to uphold or override vetoes from Gov. Paul LePage, even though he hasn’t issued any vetoes after last week’s two-day legislative wrap-up session.

A LePage spokeswoman said Wednesday that the governor has yet to make any decision on vetoing or signing five bond issues passed by the Legislature last week. While LePage has concerns about taking on additional debt, he hasn’t ruled out approving some or all of the bond issues, Adrienne Bennett said.

The five bond issues are:

• $51 million to fund transportation projects, including highway and bridge repairs.

• $20 million in research and development grants to be awarded through the Maine Technology Institute.

• $11.3 million in higher education funds to pay for infrastructure investments at the University of Maine System, the state’s community colleges and Maine Maritime Academy.

• $8 million in water and sewer infrastructure projects.

• $5 million for the Land for Maine’s Future program, which purchases land parcels to set aside for conservation, forestry and recreational use.

Although LePage has yet to issue a veto, legislative leadership wants to have a day set aside to consider any that might come up, said Jim Cyr, spokesman for House Speaker Robert Nutting.

“We have no idea what he’s going to do,” Cyr said of the governor. “The speaker’s prepared for any contingency.”

All five bond issues passed the House and Senate with support from more than two-thirds of lawmakers, the threshold legislators would need to override a LePage veto.

“I’m not surprised that there’s a veto day being scheduled. I just hope it’s not necessary,” said Rep. Emily Cain, the House Democratic leader. “This is the biggest thing that we have done all session to create jobs. I hope he doesn’t veto the bonds.”

Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, said the state’s debt load will be manageable even if these five bond packages are approved.

“Maine’s debt load is very conservative by almost any measure, so I think we can afford this,” said Katz, a member of the Appropriations Committee. “It makes targeted investments in various sectors all designed to produce the most bang for the buck on job development.”

Along with the bond issues, LePage has yet to act on 18 bills remaining from last week’s legislative session, including a proposal that would gradually lower Maine’s income tax rate to 4 percent by setting aside 20 percent of future revenue surpluses for tax relief.

LePage has a Tuesday deadline to act on the bond issues or let them go to the voters without his signature.

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