AUGUSTA — House Minority Leader Josh Tardy released a strong statement late Friday against Democratic bond packages that are scheduled for votes on Tuesday.

Tardy, a Republican from Newport, said further state borrowing is something Maine taxpayers “cannot afford” in this “brutal economic climate.”

“House Republicans believe the people of Maine cannot be buried deeper and deeper in debt,” he said in the statement. “Much has been made about the budget shortfalls that have plagued the state for years, but Maine residents have heard very little about the state’s growing addiction to borrowing.”

Republicans’ opposition is to debt, not projects, Tardy added.

He said Maine faces a possible shortfall of $1.2 billion in its next two-year budget.

Tardy’s statement was sent out in advance of Gov. John Baldacci’s weekly radio address, which will be broadcast this weekend. The address was embargoed until this morning, but a governor’s spokesman confirmed that bonds will be the topic.

House and Senate Democrats have proposed a $99 million bond issue for economic development. Baldacci has proposed a $79 million bond issue with an emphasis on jobs and transportation, particularly railroads in northern and central Maine.

House Republicans believe they can muster the votes to prevent passage of any bond issue, according to Jay Finegan, their spokesman. Bond issues require two-thirds votes of support in the Legislature and approval by voters.

David Farmer, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, said late Friday that the administration is hopeful that a bond package will get the two-thirds majority.

The governor’s plan has Republican co-sponsors, Farmer noted.


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