Letter: Scarborough rep: Bonds are governor's responsibility

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Before taking out loans, responsible individuals sit down and consider their finances. Likewise, legislators and voters should understand the state’s current financial obligations before approving more bonds.

Bonding involves borrowing money the state does not have, and Maine’s hardworking taxpayers must repay these loans. 

One of this session’s contentious bills, LD 1378, proposed to force the executive branch to release the rest of the Land for Maine’s Future bonds. Since 1997, voters have approved $96 million in LMF bonds with almost $11.5 million not yet issued. Unissued bonds, like all bonds, have a constitutionally set expiration date. Mainers are still paying down $38 million in outstanding LMF bonds, and we have paid $16 million in interest. Customarily, the state’s treasurer sells bonds in June when interest rates are lowest.

During the legislative process, LD 1378 was greatly expanded to include all general obligation bonds, not just LMF bonds. The proposal failed.

Former Gov. John Baldacci said he would hate to see the governor’s power eroded, and I agree. It is not wise to eliminate the bonding authority of the executive branch. The final decision to sell bonds is the constitutional responsibility and fiduciary duty of the sitting governor, not the treasurer.

Maine’s governors and the experienced economists of the executive branch should be involved with the timing and issuance of bonds. The current bonding process satisfies the requirements of the Maine Constitution, the IRS, and the bond market, which helps keep our rates low and protects the taxpayers.

Rep. Heather Sirocki

  • justanotherfakename

    “Maine’s governors and the experienced economists of the executive branch
    should be involved with the timing and issuance of bonds.” No they shouldn’t, the people of Maine did their research, and approved the bonds that the governor holds back year after year, costing us money in a myriad of ways, interest rates are now low, constructions jobs held back, etc. and there is no constitutional right for a governor to impede the will of the people expressed through their votes.

    The people of Scarborough should be ashamed of your willful ignorance Heather.

  • DanMaine

    The people of Maine have little to no understanding of how this money is being spent. As the Governor he has the responsibility to oversee how our hard earned tax $ are spent! Right now our entire society is spending our children’s money on all the good sounding but fiscally IRRESPONSIBLE programs!

    For example: I know a local man who is upset that this delay is stopping the purchase of a conservation easement for his property. He owns a large parcel that is currently used to train and board horses. This property is worth over a million dolars. The easement will put hundreds of thousands in his pocket due to the reduction of his property values as the land will no longer be able to be split for smaller parcels, these typically end up as home sites in the RR2 zone of Freeport.

    So here we have a relatively rich individual who will pocket big $ on the backs of poorer Maine citizens due to his desire to withdraw some of the equity from his property and the desire of a group of individuals focused on building a sort of land trust for Maine’s future? Tell me how it makes any sense at all for hard working Mine citizens to pay him to not develop his property. His taxes go down due to the property devaluation and he uses the increased cash during his retirement.

    If these groups want to put land into conservation they should find a way to fund it without tax dollars, Maine citizens just can’t afford it!

    • pDub_Windham

      There is a strong possibility that new development will not pay its own way. The increased number of kids in school and demand for town services and supporting infrastructure may not be covered by the revenue generated by the new homes. In this case, there is a possibility that those costs would be spread to other members of the community through higher property taxes. Everyone who lives in town pays these taxes…poor and rich.

      Undeveloped property requires very few town services and no kids in school. Keeping the land undeveloped may be tax revenue positive for the town in the long run. Removing the development potential of property through the sale of a conservation easement is an expression of private property rights. Sometimes you need to look at these easements as a true investment in long-term property tax relief.

      Just some food for thought.