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Maine Governor Proposes $239 Million Bond Package

Steve Mistler
Maine Public
Gov. Janet Mills at a press event in February.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills is asking Maine lawmakers and voters to approve a $239 million bond package that she says will provide needed investments in Maine’s future and create an environment that will attract families to move to the state.

Mills says she worked with her commissioners and other state officials to craft a strategy aimed at bolstering Maine’s economy through targeted investments in both infrastructure and the ongoing labor shortage.

“My administration is tackling the challenges we have head on. We have targeted, reasonable investments that will strengthen the economy and develop a strong, skilled workforce and support a clean energy environment and help fix our aging infrastructure,” she says.

The largest bond, $105 million, would be dedicated to transportation repairs and upgrades. Specifically, $80 million would be targeted to road and bridge repairs and improvements and $20 million for ports, airports and rail facilities.

That bond is expected to bring another $137 million in matching funds, mostly from the federal government.

Even with the borrowing, the state backlog of projects will continue to grow, with the cost of projects continuing to increase. The governor is also proposing a $30 million investment in broadband infrastructure, a first for the state.

Mills says it’s all part of a strategy to improve the economy by investing in Mainers.

“The second pillar of our bond proposals invests $19 million in a series of bonds to support workforce training, career and technical education and access to quality child care,” she says.

Mills is also asking for $65 million for conservation, wastewater and renewable energy projects. The popular Land for Maine’s Future program, which is nearly out of money, would get $30 million to protect land from development and keep it available for traditional recreational uses.

Republicans are just starting to look at Mills’ proposal. Republican Sen. Jim Hamper of Oxford is on the Appropriations Committee and says the budget Mills submitted had enough money for debt service to allow for $300 million in borrowing.

“There is still more time, there is still more negotiation room as far as what gets included in there,” he says.

It will take a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to put the question to voters. In addition to the governor’s plan, lawmakers have submitted borrowing proposals that total more then $2 billion.

Originally published June 4, 2019 at 2:16 p.m. ET.