Maine Legislature

House Democratic Office

www.housedemocrats.maine.gov

 

 

July 26, 2012

Contact: Jodi Quintero [McCabe] 287-1488, c. 841-627

 

 

 

Good morning. Iím Jeff McCabe, the State Representative from Skowhegan. Thanks for tuning in.

Imagine you have a small family farm, and the time is right to grow.

Your products are in demand, interest rates are low, and you have a great business plan - but you need bigger equipment, and you need to make some repairs and upgrades to the stuff you already have.

So you bring your proposal to the bank. They love your plan, and everyone signs off. The message is clear: The check will be in the mail any day.

Now you start preparing for your investment. You clear space, you hire contractors, and you put money down on seeds or livestock while the price is good; after all, the bank has promised you that the check is about to clear, and you need to be ready to roll once it does.

But suddenly, the loan officer just changes his mind. He tells you that he personally has decided the bank doesnít have enough cash in the vault, so youíre going to have to wait until he says the time is right - and that could be any time in the next five years.

Now youíre worse off than you were before you started. Youíve got new bills to pay, your competition is moving ahead of you, and by the time the money comes everything you budgeted for will be more expensive. The vague promises of help sometime down the road sound pretty hollow.

Almost a dozen towns across Maine are feeling that exact sense of betrayal today.

I represent Skowhegan in the Maine Legislature. Our community was slated to receive 400,000 dollars thanks to a downtown improvement program funded by the bond package voters passed in 2009.

Voters knew that itís a good time to make these strategic investments. Interest rates are low, Maine is in good shape to bond, and the program supports local jobs and helps communities improve their downtowns, where local businesses thrive.

Skowheganís plan was approved. The town signed contracts with the state, hired engineers and started renovations. We have spent nearly 40,000 dollars, and local businesses have raised more than half a million dollars to match the grant.

So you can imagine our shock when Governor LePage went back on the stateís promise to help us fund our project on schedule. He told us that heís holding the money, and he can stall on issuing the bonds for as long as five years if he wants to.

Nearly a dozen other towns, like Eastport, Monmouth, Rockland and Winthrop all qualified for funds to redevelop their downtowns and create new local jobs. We were all ready to go, and we all got the same message from Governor LePage Ė weíll get the money when he feels like it.

 

This isnít the first time the LePage administration has blindsided a rural community. Earlier this year the Governor started a high-stakes game of chicken with the town of Millinocket over emergency funds that he owed them. This trend needs to stop. Town officials and local small businesses shouldnít be losing sleep over broken promises and power plays.

The governor is ignoring the will of the people and holding our local economy hostage. These shovel-ready projects put money into the hands of local contractors and will create local jobs.  Most of the communities are rural, and are struggling to grow while our population shrinks and our unemployment rises. The small businesses and middle class families in towns like ours across the state are counting on our Main Streets.

Creating jobs and growing local economies must be Maineís top priority, and its senseless choices like these that have pushed us backwards.

 

Look; this isnít about whether you supported the bond package at the polls or not.

 

 Itís about a promise being a promise Ė a dozen Maine communities did everything right. They were guaranteed support from Augusta. And then they had the rug pulled out from under them, and were left with a pile of unpaid bills and empty promises.


Itís about your vote meaning something. Regardless of which side you supported on this issue, you voted Ė and you expected that the winning side would get what it voted for. Instead, Governor LePage is taking his ball and going home. He shouldnít get to ignore the voice of the voters whenever he doesnít agree with them.


And itís about local jobs, in a state that needs every job it can get. Maine lost thirteen-hundred jobs in 2011. We now have an opportunity to jump start rural economic development with the program that the Governor is holding hostage. But he seems to have decided that he will pick and choose which communities get to grow and which businesses get to create jobs.


We shouldnít be forced to take sides on economic development. Everyone should be working together to support local downtowns and create jobs for middle class families. I urge Governor LePage to release the bond money that voters supported and communities planned for. Itís time to finally start putting people before politics.


Iím Jeff McCabe, proudly serving Skowhegan every day. Thank you for listening.