LePage: Rich Mainers likely ‘excited as hell’ over conservation funding

Gov. Paul LePage said last week that he’ll release $5 million in conservation bonds that he has been holding up, but he’s not terribly happy about it.

In LePage’s weekly radio appearance on a WVOM talk show, host George Hale said a project that received a share of conservation money that the Republican governor released in October is “making some people happy.”

“I’m sure it probably is,” LePage said. “The wealthy people are probably excited as hell.”

LePage’s argument has been that taking property off the tax rolls helps wealthy people by inflating property taxes for residents and that landowners are getting above-market prices for the land. But advocates have argued that the Land for Maine’s Future program preserves land so people who can’t buy land can hunt, fish and hike on it.

He has hammered the Howard Hill project in Augusta, which would preserve the state’s wooded backdrop. The Kennebec Land Trust has purchased 164 acres to transfer to the city at a price of $925,000, according to the Portland Press Herald. However, that land is only valued at $164,000 for tax purposes.

Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, called into WVOM after LePage’s appearance last week to say that the price has to factor in the value of what could be built on the property later. The governor, however, rejected that out of hand.

“Oh my God, Tom, go get a job,” LePage said. “That’s outrageous.”

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.