At the end of August, the Maine Legislature reconvened for a special session to take up five separate bond proposals. All of them were approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives during the one-day session. In November, it will be up to you, the voter, to decide whether these borrowing proposals should be given final approval.
As a matter of principle, I am usually not a big supporter of bonds. I believe that if something is an important enough priority, we should find funding for it in the general budget.
In this case, however, I voted in favor of all of the bonds.
One of the main reasons I supported them is because, unlike the two-year budget we passed at the end of the last legislative session, the bond package came as the result of a bipartisan agreement between the Governor and legislative leadership from both sides of the aisle. Some legislators wanted to borrow much more than what we ended up with in the final agreement, while others said that they could not support any of them. I believe that what we were left with is a good compromise that is in the best interests of all Mainers because it addresses critical infrastructure needs that can no longer be ignored.
The bond package is worth $149.5 million.
$100 million of that will go toward transportation projects, many of which would bring much-needed repairs to roads and bridges in Senate District 12. One clear example of this is the River Road in Windham. Funding has already been approved for repairs to this road, but passage of the bond will ensure that it will not be vulnerable to future cuts for highway projects. Maintaining our transportation infrastructure should be one of our top priorities, so I believe this would be money well spent.
$14 million is for repairs to Maine’s armories. The Portland Armory and other armories around the state are in serious disrepair. Some of them have leaking roofs, mold, and significant structural problems. This is unacceptable when you consider these are the buildings our National Guard troops use to train and prepare to deploy overseas. Many of us in the Legislature felt this should have been taken care of in the general budget; but if a bond is the only way we can do it, I support this borrowing measure.
$15.5 million will go to the University of Maine System.
Another $15.5 million will go to the Maine Community College System.
The remaining $4.5 million will fund a science facility at Maine Maritime Academy.
Again, I am always reluctant to sign off on our state taking on more debt. But this is a bond package I could live with because it is limited in scope and targeted to very specific needs. Furthermore, if it is approved by voters, it will not increase our overall debt, as we have recently retired more than the $149.5 million that we would be taking on with the new proposed bonds.
For these reasons, I supported all five bond proposals and would encourage you to consider each one of them carefully on their own merits when you go to vote this November.
Senator Gary Plummer (R-Cumberland) represents Senate District 12 which includes the Cumberland County towns of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish, and Windham, as well as the York County town of Hollis.