March 20, 2013

LePage asks when debt plan will pass

From staff reports

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage hasn't stuck to his vow to veto all bills sent to him before passage of a plan to pay Maine's debt to its hospitals, but he's asking legislative leaders to tell him when he will see a payment plan.

In a statement Wednesday, LePage's office confirmed that he allowed six bills to become law without his signature. In a letter to legislative leaders released by his office, he called it a "gesture of good faith."

But he kept the focus on hospitals, saying "the time to pay our bills is now."

He asked leadership to commit to a date by which the Legislature "will pass" his plan to pay Maine's $186 million share of hospital debt, to be matched by $298 million in federal funds. Until then, he said, he wants the Legislature to take roll call votes on all bills sent to his desk.

"Maine people deserve to know where their representatives stand, whether it is to override my vetoes or when they pass the laws," LePage said in a prepared statement.

Along with the six bills that became law after Tuesday's deadline, LePage signed an emergency bill Friday to allow bars to open early on St. Patrick's Day.

In early March, LePage said he would veto all bills that came to him before a hospital proposal. He repeated that in a television interview last week.

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