$19,448! If you are one of Maine’s 653,000 tax filers, this is your share of the Maine’s $12.7 billion in public debt. If you do not remember approving nearly $13 billion in bonds, you did not necessarily miss an election. More than 95% of Maine’s debt was never approved by voters as required by our Constitution!
As a voter and taxpayer you have only had a say on about $500 million in general obligation bond questions on the ballot. The remainder of our taxpayer-backed obligations is the result of promises made, but never paid for and decisions made by quasi-governmental authorities you have never heard of.
....Most of the remaining obligations backed up by Maine’s taxpayers were issued by boards or authorities you probably have never heard of. The debt was issued without your approval and passed onto other entities who we hope will repay the money.....
....Article IX, Section 14 of Maine’s Constitution is clear. With very rare exceptions, the credit of the state shall not be directly or indirectly loaned without a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and a majority vote of electors.
In an article for The Bangor Daily News, Matt Wickenheiser said:
“AUGUSTA, Maine — A $31 million bond package sponsored by a little-known quasi-state government body has stalled after Gov. Paul LePage’s decision not to approve it.
The decision highlights a fundamental shift in how the executive branch views debt in the state and has implications for agencies that issue bonds to help fund such things as college loans, low-income housing, and hospital and school expansions.
The Maine Health and Higher Educational Facilities Authority, or MHHEFA, is the government entity in the state that educational and health care nonprofit groups must go through under federal law to sell tax-exempt bonds, borrowing money for capital expenditures at low rates of interest.
Maine residents have not been asked to vote on such quasi-governmental agency bonds in the past, but that appears to be changing under the LePage administration.”
Imagine what resources might be suddenly freed up, if we could eliminate all special interest benefits with the swoop of a wand. It would be like the sudden rushing of a frozen river in the early spring.