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Lawmakers OK with rejection of Maine liquor offer

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 31, 2013 at 2:17 pm •  Published: January 31, 2013

"In 2004, we had a fire sale on our wholesale liquor contract that didn't result in the best deal for our state," said Senate GOP Leader Michael Thibodeau of Winterport. "Maine cannot afford to repeat this mistake. We need to make sure we maximize the revenue stream created by the next liquor contract."

House Republican Leader Rep. Ken Fredette of Newport agreed, saying it's important to maximize the value of the liquor contract.

"Maine Beverage Company has proven that the contract's value is substantially higher than what they paid for it in 2004. We must ensure that our return on this state asset is put to good use in our overall budget strategy," Fredette said.

Maine Beverage held out its offer as a possible alternative to LePage's plan to raise $186 million the state owes to hospitals for Medicaid services dating to 2009, which would trigger $298 million in federal funding to complete the repayment.

LePage has suggested the state take over liquor sales and issue bonds to pay the Medicaid debt, paying the bonds with future liquor sales. Maine Beverage said the revenue from the new contract could pay the debt without a bond issue.