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Beth O'Conner's Testimony Before the Maine Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee

Testimony by 
Beth O'Connor
Before the Maine Congressional Committee
January 8th 2014

Thank you Senator Hill , Representative Rotundo, ladies and gentlemen of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee for taking my testimony on "An Act to Repeal Bonding Authority of the Maine Governmental Facilities Authority."

My name is Beth O'Connor. I am the Chairman for Maine Taxpayers United and am here as a representative for our board of directors and members in favor of supporting LD # 790 Sponsored by Representative Sirocki.

Every day in the newspapers, magazines, social media, etc. we see that the Maine legislative body is struggling to find solutions to pay current debt and all of our mandatory obligations, not to mention our moral obligations. We are all aware that all debt incurred by us today, will be paid for by our children and grandchildren. It is up to all of us to ensure the obligations placed on the future are not only prudent, but just.

A few years ago I was made aware of a piece written by the Honorable Peter Mills regarding the Government Facilities Authority, I was most intrigued by this statement;

"Government Facilities Authority (the "GFA"). In 1998 the money was used to build new prisons and to renovate the State House complex. The record surplus of that year was spent on other things" he went on to say "GFA bonds are technically unenforceable in the sense that no subsequent legislature is legally required to pay them off. Because they are not passed by a 2/3 vote of the legislature and are not approved by voters, they do not carry the "full faith and credit" of the state."

That does not make me, or many others feel very comfortable knowing one legislative and executive body can have a field day spending other people's money on pet projects that they can take credit for today and pass the buck down the road for the next body to determine how this debt is to be paid. The GFA gives each legislature the power to make the next five (2 year sessions) legislatures pay off the debts that it creates.

As of 2012 debt for the GFA was 187 million by tax dollar supported agency budgets.

As of 2012 our moral obligation debt was over four billion in promise of payment, but it is not legally enforceable.

Our total tax supported debt burden in Maine is currently 2.3% of personal income.

All proposed bonding, borrowing, should be able to pass the test of muster and be able to secure, as is Constitutionally required a 2/3rds vote from the legislative body and be further sent out for approval of the taxpayers who ultimately are the ones footing the bill. Supporting this legislation will help attain the fore mentioned.

Thank you for your time and consideration as well as your service to Maine citizens.

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