PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Governor LePage is making a proposal that he says will create jobs and ensure the state no longer has a debt to its hospitals.
At a news conference at the University of New England, the governor laid out his plan, which deals with two big issues. First, he made a campaign promise to retire the state's hospital debt. It totals $484 million now. The other issue is that voters approved more than $100 million dollars in bonds, which the governor has 5 years to issue. He'd been getting pressure to do it quickly, but had resisted, saying he'd do it when the state was on better financial footing.
The governor says he plans to pay hospitals back through emergency legislation to issue a revenue bond on the state's future liquor sales. That bond will allow the state to pay hospitals $186 million, triggering a federal match of $298 million. The state's current liquor contract is up in 2014. Under the governor's plan, the state would manage the next contract, and the proceeds would pay off the bond.
The governor says with the hospitals paid off, the state would be in a good financial position to issue those voter approved bonds. He said the credit rating agencies had been concerned about the state's hospital debt, and that is why he has waited on the bonds. He believes making both those moves now will create jobs.
Governor LePage said, "The reason I did not issue the bonds is that we owed the debt to the hospitals. As soon as we pay the hospitals off, I will issue those bonds. "
The governor spoke at the University of New England's dental school, currently under construction. That school is one of the places that will benefit from the voter approved bonds.
As part of this package, the Governor also is proposing a $100 million facilities bond to build new corrections facilities in Windham. That, he says, would be paid for through efficiencies in the system.