Politics

June 18, 2013

LePage's finance chief wants to avoid government shutdown

But he has no firm answer on the state's bond rating and says there is no 'plan B' if the the governor successfully vetoes the budget.

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Sawin Millett, Maine's commissioner of administration and finance, remembers the government shutdown in 1991.

Joe Phelan / Kennebec Journal

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On Monday, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States urged LePage to veto the bill on behalf of the state's hospitality industry. The group specifically objected to the increases in sales and meals-and-lodging taxes.

Americans for Prosperity Maine, a conservative advocacy group, also urged lawmakers to oppose the budget, saying the tax increases could become permanent.

Millett said Monday that a new budget must be enacted for the state to authorize about $104 million in voter-approved bonds. LePage has said he will release the bonds as soon as lawmakers pass his plan to pay Maine's hospitals $186 million in backlogged Medicaid reimbursements.

The hospital plan has been the subject of constant political wrangling in this session. It was passed and signed into law by LePage last week, leading some Democrats to question when the governor will release the bonds.

Millett said that as the end of the fiscal year draws near, the state must get a new bond rating before authorizing bonds to fund transportation and infrastructure projects.

On Monday, state Treasurer Neria Douglass urged LePage to sign the budget quickly, saying that "rating agencies and financial markets will not look favorably on his actions if he delays or vetoes it."

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

smistler@mainetoday.com

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