AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Governor LePage has called the Legislature back to Augusta next week to vote on that bond package worked out between the Governor, Republicans and majority Democrats. The $149.5 million package includes $100 million for transportation projects, roughly $35 million for science labs and other facilities at Maine's Community Colleges, University campuses and Maine Maritime Academy, and $14 million for improvements to National Guard armories.
The deal was worked out last week, and if the Legislature approves it will go to Maine voters in November. Democratic leaders said today the bond package is smaller than they wanted, as it doesn't include any funding for research and development or land conservation. But they also acknowledged it islarger than Republicans and the Governor wanted. In addition, Republicans wanted a vote in November, while Democrats had wanted to wait until June to take bonds to voters. The compromise forced both sides to make concessions to get something they wanted. . Leaders of both parties say they think the compromise is a good one, and believe the full Legislature will support it next week. The Governor has indicated he also supports the plan. Democratic leaders say Republicans have agreed to consider other bond proposals when the legislature returns in January for its winter session.
The Special Session on Aug. 29 may also be asked to take action to prevent a funding crisis at the state's Riverview Psychiatric Hospital in Augusta. The federal government has threatened to cut off $20 million in funding for the hospital because of a range of problems, including cases where disruptive or aggressive patients have reportedly been subdued with tasers and held in handcuffs. The Governor wants additional funding to create a special; psychiatric ward at the Maine State Prison to handle the most difficult criminal patients. Legislators say they hope to hear more details at an Appropriations Committee hearing on Thursday.