AUGUSTA (AP) — Maine’s treasurer-elect wants more transparency in how the state and organizations are spending bond money approved by voters by building an online tool that will make the information readily available to the public and policymakers.
Terry Hayes, an independent from Buckfield who ousted the Democratic treasurer this week, said voters have a right to know exactly how their tax dollars are being spent after they sign off on millions of dollars in state borrowing.
“I think we have an obligation to make it easier for voters to understand the capital improvements that they have provided,” said Hayes, a former Democratic House member who recently left the party.
Hayes was nominated by Republicans to replace incumbent Neria Douglass and earned enough support from Democrats and independents to be elected on Wednesday, even though Republicans are overall in the minority in the Statehouse.
After she is sworn in next month, Hayes said she hopes to build a space on the treasurer’s website where, for example, someone could see what specific highway, railway or marine improvements have been funded by a transportation infrastructure bond passed in 2010.
She hopes to undertake the project using existing resources and is still working out the details on how it can be done.
Having such information readily available can also be helpful in the Legislature where lawmakers have “the same argument every year” about bonds in which “Democrats say it’s all about jobs and Republicans say that debt is bad,” Hayes said.
Knowing how many jobs have been created through a bond project or which past bonds issues have most benefited the state can help shape future discussions and decisions about borrowing, Hayes said.
Sen. Roger Katz said Hayes’ plan sounds intriguing and said he hopes that it could be done in a way that’s user-friendly for the general public.
“After the passage of the bond issues, these things tend to become forgotten, so anything which increases the public’s knowledge of how the money is being spent is a good thing,” the Republican from Augusta said.