AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage issued three vetoes Thursday, rejecting bills to extend tax breaks to commercial foresters and nonprofit performing arts organizations, and one aimed at improving the energy efficiency of public buildings.

The governor has now vetoed a total of 15 bills since he took office a year ago. More could be vetoed by the end of today, the deadline for him to reject bills held over from last year.

The vetoed bills will appear on the Senate calendar for reconsideration next week. Any that get two-thirds support for an override will go to the House for consideration. Last session, lawmakers sustained all of LePage’s 12 vetoes.

Vetoed Thursday were:

L.D. 338, sponsored by Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. The bill would give logging companies a maximum tax credit of $1,000 for fuel to encourage them to hire Maine residents. In the veto message, LePage wrote that he plans to propose a tax relief package later this year that would give commercial timber harvesters “the same sales tax treatment on equipment as their counterparts in the agriculture industry receive.”

L.D. 205, sponsored by Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick. The bill would give a sales tax exemption to incorporated nonprofit performing arts organizations that provide “arts, educational, or cultural programs to a live audience, including, but not limited to, music, dance and theater.”

In that veto message, LePage said a sales tax exemption for performing arts organizations does not meet his definition of a necessity.

“Performing arts organizations are important to the cultural fabric of Maine,” he wrote. “However, simply because something is worthwhile and good does not mean it should enjoy tax free status. Exemptions from the sales tax should be saved for the necessities of life — food, shelter, medicine — as well as for important initiatives meant to foster growth and create good paying jobs in Maine industries, increasing our overall tax base.”

L.D. 1264, sponsored by Sen. Phil Bartlett, D-Gorham. The bill would require consideration of the efficiency of heating, cooling and electrical systems in designs for new schools and municipal buildings.

LePage wrote that he believes the bill would require state and local entities to consider expensive options “without clear definitions of short-term cost impacts.” Also, he’s concerned that it would give Efficiency Maine Trust too much power to write rules without oversight from elected officials.

In response, Bartlett said the bill’s intention is to lower the cost of new buildings, not increase them. He said he’ll fight to get the veto overturned. “The last thing we should be doing is ignoring opportunities to lower costs.”

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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