LePage and Hayes Spar Over Stalled Bond Sale
The issue of selling government bonds for projects across Maine turned into a spat between Gov. Paul LePage and State Treasurer Terry Hayes Monday.
Governor LePage blocked the bond sale last week, and now the governor and the state treasurer are trading charges over who is responsible for the delay that has upset several contractors with projects underway.
Over $127 million in bonds were supposed to be sold for an array of projects, but mostly for road and bridges repairs and improvements. That sale is not happening after Gov. LePage refused to sign the paperwork for the bond sale, saying he wants to wait until after the Legislature’s special session is over.
“I don’t have a problem selling the bonds,” said LePage. “There’s never been a question because I don’t know how much damage they are doing upstairs this week. They spent $122 million. Maybe the bond sale has to be a little smaller.”
LePage said he told State Treasurer Terry Hayes that he wanted to wait on the bond sale, but she told him the process was too far along with winning bids already accepted from two large commercial banks. LePage says Hayes put a stack of paperwork in front of him last week and asked him to sign the documents.
“Would you sign a document? I want your name but I won’t give you any information? No. Even my wife can’t get that out of me,” said LePage.
But Hayes produced several documents approved by the governor over several months authorizing borrowing from the state cash pool in anticipation of the sale of the bonds that have been approved by the voters. They indicate the cash pool will be paid back by June 30. That won’t happen now, and the state will lose interest on that money. Hayes said the state government will likely have to pay a little more now to borrow through bonding because of the uncertainty LePage has caused.
But Gov. LePage said the whole issue was created by Hayes to benefit her campaign for governor as an independent.
“The only thing that is going on right now is Terry Hayes is running for governor,” he said. “She should resign the job and let somebody else be treasurer while she is running for governor.”
Hayes denied this allegation.
"This is nothing about me running for governor, nothing,” Hayes said. “It’s more about our current governor not doing his job, trying to use these in a game of chicken with the Legislature, and that is not in our best financial interest.”
Hayes said she will move forward with a bond sale after the governor signs all the paperwork – after the session.
LePage said he is upset at the spending bills passed by the Legislature, including one to fund Medicaid expansion approved by the voters last fall. He said he plans to veto all of them.
This story was originally published June 25, 2018 at 5:45 p.m. ET.