AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage issued three vetoes Thursday, rejecting bills that extend tax breaks to commercial foresters and nonprofit performing arts organizations, and one that was aimed at improving the energy efficiency of public buildings.

The action brings to 15 the total vetoed by the governor since he took office a year ago. More could be vetoed by the end of the day today, the deadline for him to reject bills held over from last year.

The vetoed bills will appear on the Senate calendar for reconsideration next week. If they get two-thirds support for an override, they will go to the House for consideration. Last session, lawmakers sustained all of LePage’s 12 vetoes.

Vetoed Thursday were:

* L.D. 338 sponsored by Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. The bill gives logging companies a maximum tax credit of $1,000 for fuel to encourage them to hire Maine residents. In the veto message, LePage wrote that he plans to come forward with a tax relief package later this year that will give commercial timber harvesters “the same sales tax treatment on equipment as their counterparts in the agriculture industry receive.”

* L.D. 205, sponsored by Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick. The bill gives a sales tax exemption to incorporated nonprofit performing arts organizations that provide “arts, educational, or cultural programs to a live audience, including, but not limited to, music, dance and theater.”

In that veto message, LePage said the sales tax exemption for performing arts organizations does not meet his definition of a necessity.

“Performing arts organizations are important to the cultural fabric of Maine,” he wrote. “However, simply because something is worthwhile and good does not mean it should enjoy tax free status. Exemptions from the sales tax should be saved for the necessities of life — food, shelter, medicine — as well as for important initiatives meant to foster growth and create good paying jobs in Maine industries, increasing our overall tax base.”

* L.D. 1264 sponsored by Sen. Phil Bartlett, D-Gorham. The bill seeks to require that when new state buildings, schools and municipal buildings are designed, their energy efficiency, including the efficiency of heating, cooling and electric systems, be taken into consideration.

LePage wrote that he believes the bill will require state and local entities to consider expensive options “without clear definitions of short-term cost impacts.” Also, he’s concerned that it gives Efficiency Maine too much power to write rules without oversight from elected officials.

In response, Bartlett, the bill’s sponsor, said the bill’s intention is to lower the cost of new buildings, not increase it. He said he’ll fight to get the veto overturned.

Susan Cover — 620-7015

[email protected]

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