Believe it or not, spring is here. This means that as the temperatures increase, we’ll start seeing signs of green buds on the trees, brown footprints in our mudroom and a deserved break from the giant potholes and frost heaves in our roads.
Next up will be summer and the start of the construction season — work intended to improve our transportation system and overall economy — but not if Gov. Paul LePage chooses to continue holding the voter-approved bonds captive.
These investments are not only critical to the construction industry but to Maine’s economy as a whole. A stable road to recovery and prosperity requires a strong infrastructure and the jobs that come with it.
Right now, Maine ranks 45 th among states in private-sector job growth since 2011 and far behind all of the other New England states in job recovery. Our economy is not growing as fast as it should be because someone has his foot on the brake.
LePage describes himself as a business expert, a turnaround specialist and someone who’s got the know-how to make good things happen for our state. So far, it has felt like more of a hostile takeover with ever-changing demands versus the rebuilding of Maine’s economy.
If Maine was a company, what would shareholders say about its CEO’s performance?
From the mill in East Millinocket to the shipyard in Bath, businesses need stability and growth opportunities to keep their operations humming. These businesses cannot plan from quarter to quarter without knowing what projects are coming in and what will be necessary to fulfill the contracts.
It is front-page news when Bath Iron Works suddenly loses a contract they had bid on and won. The next step is layoffs and scale-backs in order to stay afloat. It hurts the business, everyone connected with it and Maine’s economy.
Withholding the bond money is pulling out the rug from under the construction companies and other businesses that rely on the investments that they bid on and won fair and square.
There are water and sewer infrastructure projects and plans to expand training and higher education opportunities for Maine people. Everything is on hold.
These folks have made business decisions based on the bonds and the work they were promised. They have hired workers, brought equipment and prepared for the job. Pulling the rug out from under them is wrong.
As a member of the House of Representatives, I can assure you that my colleagues and I are doing everything we can to keep Maine running. We worked in a fair bipartisan way to restore funding to towns and are drafting a workable balanced budget and continuing to grow jobs, all without much help from the chief executive.
The governor is playing a dangerous game in holding the voter-approved bonds until he gets his way. Given his ever-changing demands, he appears to be acting out of vengeance and contempt rather than thoughtfully working toward a stronger Maine. If his intent is to punish those who disagree with him politically, I’m afraid that he is only hurting one group — Maine workers.
Spring is a time of renewal. It is a time to clean out the old and freshen up with the new. It is a time of growth. I’m asking our governor to turn over a new leaf, lead our state and grow Maine’s economy by releasing the bonds.
Rep. Stephen Stanley, D-Medway, is serving in his fifth nonconsecutive term in the Maine Legislature. He is a lifelong mill worker.