With the November 5th election just around the corner, Mainers will soon be voting on whether or not to approve five bond bills. As your local representative, I would like to tell you more about this comprehensive jobs bond package.
The bonds will support programs and investments in three areas: Education, armories and transportation.
Firstly, $35 million of the total $149.5 million will go toward investments in education. Our schools bear the responsibility of preparing our youth with the knowledge they need to find good jobs. These funds will go to the University of Maine System, Maine Maritime Academy and the Maine Community College System. By updating Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) labs, these bonds will ensure our students receive a strong education using modern technology, preparing them for a 21st century job market.
Secondly, $14 million will be allocated to restore our state’s armories. We saw the economic damage done to New Jersey and New York by Superstorm Sandy and the important role our National Guard plays in emergencies. I was surprised to learn that 50 percent of our state armories, where members of the National Guard are trained and work, are in degraded and inadequate condition.
Many of our state armories were built in the 1950s. They suffer from un-insulated ceilings, leaky heating systems, asbestos floor tiles, water damage, and mold, to name a few issues. Some don’t have fire alarms, fire-suppression systems or upgraded electrical systems.
In a state that experiences its own fair share of severe weather, we have a responsibility to make sure our disaster relief service members are well-trained in quality facilities. Of the $14 million bond, $11 million will go to maintenance, repair and modernization funds. That portion of the bond could bring in as much as $13 million in federal matching funds. It would pay for about 220 projects in 17 locations.
Finally, another $100 million will be invested into transportation projects. A healthy infrastructure (roads and bridges) is essential to a strong economy. In a state where the largest economic sector is tourism, we rely on safe roads and bridges to carry out-of-staters to and from Maine. Additionally, $31 million in goods leave the state each year. Businesses depend on our state’s various modes of transportation to carry these products and workers efficiently and effectively. Ultimately these bonds will catalyze economic growth in Maine.
I encourage you to vote “yes” for these bonds. Maine has a good track record for borrowing conservatively and always paying back what we borrow. These bonds will pay us back with a good return on our investment!
Rep. Jane Pringle, D-Windham, is serving her first term in the Maine House. She serves on the Insurance and Financial Services Committee. You can reach her at email@example.com or 207-892-8266.