Bonding dispute between ME governor, treasurer stalls infrastructure projects
- A disagreement over the selection process of a bonding agent could sideline as much as $600 million in Maine infrastructure projects, according to the Portland Press Herald.
- Maine Gov. Paul LePage said state Treasurer Terry Hayes' office did not follow state procurement guidelines in its selection of a Dallas-based bonding agent and wants her to send out another Request for Proposals to allow more Maine agents to submit bids. Hayes maintains that she followed procedure and said she is waiting for LePage to designate how much the state wants to put on the bond market in June.
- If the bonds are not issued in time, the state would stop advertising new work, and the short summer construction season in Maine could be at risk. The state has already stopped awarding contracts and putting new work out to bid, although experts said it will most likely move forward with contracts that have already been issued.
Disputes at the state level have the potential to significantly impact contractors, as construction companies and workers often rely on summer work to make up the bulk of their work for the year and to sustain them through the slower winter months.
Those involved in the Maine dispute need only look to New Jersey to see the havoc that can result from a disruption of construction work in a state that has winter as a hard deadline.
Despite successful negotiations last June between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and state lawmakers over a 23-cent gas-tax increase to help recharge the state's Transportation Trust Fund, they could not agree on what kind of tax relief should be used to counterbalance it in the state budget. Christie wanted a 1% decrease in the sales tax, but Democrats resisted. As a result of the impasse, Christie proclaimed the TTF empty and, with the exception of emergency roadwork, shut down about $3.5 billion worth of highway projects on July 1.
Democrats and Christie came to an agreement in October over a smaller decrease in the sales tax, but, by that time, crews had already missed out on much of the prime construction months and were left wondering how they would make it through to the 2017 construction season.
- Portland Press Herald Spat between LePage and Maine treasurer puts construction projects on hold
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