Sun Journal: LePage has better idea for liquor contract


Allens CB
An editorial from the Sun Journal, a Lewiston-Auburn-based newspaper, on Sunday praised Gov. Paul R. LePage’s proposal to retool the State’s liquor sales contract and use proceeds to pay off debts owed to Maine’s hospitals.

It is reassuring to know the Maine Legislature can act swiftly in the face of an imminent crisis

Like when we can’t get a drink before 9 on St. Patrick’s Day morning.

In order to  preserve the “public peace, health and safety,” Rep. Barry Hobbins would move happy hour back to 6 a.m. when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday, as it does this year.

Without this bill, early morning chaos might break out all over Maine that day.

Republicans last week couldn’t help but note that Hobbins’ bill was moving more quickly through the Legislature than another alcohol-related bill proposed by Gov. Paul LePage.

That one is of considerably greater significance, since it would partially determine the use of hundreds of millions of dollars of liquor sale profits over the next decade.

With the state’s monopoly liquor distribution contract expiring in 2014, LePage would obligate nearly $200 million toward paying off a $186 million debt to Maine’s hospitals for past Medicaid services.

Republicans have complained that no hearings have been scheduled on LePage’s bill, and last week we found out why: Democrats have a different plan in mind.

Senate Democratic Leader Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, last week introduced a bill that would require a large upfront payment from a vendor, followed by a fixed annual payment and a percentage of the annual profits over the next 10 years.

This plan seems shaped by the current contract holder, Maine Beverage Co., which in 2004 talked the state into one of the most lopsided deals in business history.

Read the full editorial here


  1. Has there been an audit of the Maine Hospital expenses with respect to the degree of markup? What comprises the money owed? Is there somewhere the public can review the debt in detail?


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