Thank you, Mr. President
I rise today to explain the decision of my caucus to vote for the Transportation bond portion of the proposed package, but against each of the other pieces of the package.
As we are all aware, State Government has a bill coming due in January. The Supplemental Budget may cost taxpayers as much as $150 million to $200 million or more.
Borrowing now, when we do not yet know what January’s bill will be, is irresponsible and unnecessary.
Bond sales in Maine occur at the end of June each year. This leaves us a full ten months to pass these bonds here, get them onto a ballot in a statewide election, and passed by the people before they are scheduled to be sold.
If we were to vote to pass the Land for Maine’s Future proposal today, for example, this would not cause any money to be borrowed until almost July of next year. We have plenty of time to make an informed, responsible decision before we add to the $3.2 billion dollars that we already owe in moral obligation bonds alone.
As it turns out, there is a statewide election scheduled in March for Presidential primaries. Sending these bonds to voters through that election will have no impact on these bonds whatsoever. They will still be sold next June and available at the same time that they would be if we passed them today.
We can and should wait until January to consider these proposals, so that we can make a responsible decision once we know how much money we must find in order to cover the new, still unknown costs of the Supplemental Budget.
As a homeowner, I know enough not to go out and buy a new, expensive boat or camper today when I know I will need a new roof on my home come spring but don’t yet know what that roof will cost.
I know well enough that a new major purchase from the family budget that is not an emergency can wait until I know for sure how much that roof is going to cost me.
There is no immediate, compelling reason to act on these bonds until we know what kind of fiscal challenges we will face when we meet again in January. In fact, while we wait to make a more informed decision, interest rates are likely to go down, reducing the cost of these bonds by the time we consider them.