To all you Mainers who depend on a crumbling road to get to work, or hope to get a job putting some of those roads back into shape, Gov. LePage is holding you hostage.

In a typically blunt statement released Tuesday afternoon, LePage said he would not sign a bill that would put a bond package before the voters this year unless he gets what he wants from the Legislature when it come back next month to complete the 2013 budget.

“Our welfare programs have become unaffordable and structural changes must be considered to reduce out-of-control spending,” LePage said. “To achieve savings we must be willing to better align Maine with federal eligibility requirements.”

Or, in other words, make the deep cuts to healthcare coverage for the state’s neediest people that lawmakers have twice refused to do, or give up any hope for transportation and other bonds this year that would invest in Maine to make the state’s economy grow.

Even if you accepted the governor’s premise, that it is welfare spending — and not healthcare inflation, which affects everyone, with or without private insurance — LePage’s strategy makes little sense.

Maine’s infrastructure needs have been shortchanged for years and the state can no longer repair and maintain the roads we depend on without issuing bonds.


Now is a good time to borrow. Interest rates are low, our credit rating is excellent and the construction industry is recovering slowly from the recession.

LePage creates a false choice. Health care and infrastructure investment are two entirely different government services that should be dealt with independently, not balanced against one another.

But politically, LePage’s move makes more sense. He has pushed the Legislature before and won, so it’s easy to see why he would try again. The governor has vetoed bills that received near-unanimous votes from the Legislature, and its members have failed to override every time but one. When it came to the first-ever line item veto, Republican lawmakers refused to even convene for an override vote.

Lawmakers from both parties should stand up to the governor this time and set the transportation hostages free.


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