As I read the column on bonding by Gov. LePage’s spokeswoman, I felt both stunned by the weakness of it yet sympathetic to the woman charged with delivering it (Maine Voices, “LePage is making a responsible decision by delaying sale of bonds,” June 22). Bonds and borrowing are not inherently evil but a necessary part of how we fund long-range needs in our state, from maintaining roads and bridges to rebuilding schools and supporting economic growth.
Following the governor’s logic, we’re apparently supposed to sustain our infrastructure entirely on a cash basis, like some small-town used-video and pizza store. We shouldn’t borrow money, he says, until we have a stronger economy. That’s like saying a business shouldn’t advertise until it has lots of customers. We cannot have a stronger economy without prudent investments in infrastructure and growth. It’s that simple.
The governor also says we shouldn’t borrow money for long-term needs, even if interest rates are at historic lows, because we’ll have to repay it. Is anyone in this administration buying their house and car with cash alone? If so, please step forward and tell us how that’s going and explain how everyone in Maine should do the same thing.
This isn’t about bonds at all, of course, it’s about making government leaner. That’s a noble and important goal, but we can’t sacrifice the economy to get there. We have to do both.
On this and other issues related to the economy, it seems clear that the governor knows exactly what he’s against but hasn’t much of an idea of what he’s for. His actions remind me of the “Blazing Saddles” scene where the new sheriff, confronted with a complex situation calling for quick action, points a gun to his head and takes himself hostage.
Alan Caron is the author of “Reinventing Maine Government,” a report published by the Freeport think tank Envision Maine in 2010.