A Badly Needed Bond Bill

By Senator Diamond

This week, the Appropriations Committee put together a package of bonds. Below is a breakdown of that package:

• Transportation — $51,500,000 — including $36,000,000 for highways and bridges and $1,500,000 for rail;

• Drinking and Wastewater, $7,925,000;

• Land For Maine’s Future (including farmland and waterfront preservation, and deer wintering areas), $5,000,000;

• Research and Development — $20,000,000.

Higher Education — Majority Report  — $11,300,000;

• Higher Education — Minority Report — $14,300,000;

• Total Majority Report — $95,725,000;

• Total Minority Report — $98,725,000.

While there is unanimous approval for all the items in the lower amount, the Minority Report recommends an additional $3,000,000 for additional projects throughout the University of Maine system.

These bonds will be doing badly needed work around the state. Our roads and bridges are in terrible shape and there is a huge backlog of needed water and sewer projects waiting to be done. The research and development funds will be used to help develop our high-tech sector and keep Maine on the cutting edge. Our colleges and university system badly need additional work on their infrastructure and to develop new courses of study to compete in the world economy. Locally, there is a railroad bond I proposed that will improve the tracks on the Mountain Division rail line that could benefit from the rail money.

Bond money is also a very efficient use of state dollars. The money from the bond is usually multiplied by Federal matches, in some cases as high as 9:1. If we don’t access these federal funds, we are missing an important opportunity, and other states will benefit from our inaction.

Bonding in this environment is a win-win situation. We have record low-interest rates, relatively low labor costs, high unemployment and a great many projects that need to be done. This bond package will help us to rebuild our infrastructure to help the economy for the long-term, and it puts Mainers back to work now to help jump-start our economy.

I’d like to know what you think about this proposal, so please call my office in Augusta at 287-1515 or visit my website, www.mainesenate.org/diamond to send me an e-mail.

Senator Bill Diamond is a resident of Windham, and serves the District 12 communities of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish, Windham and Hollis.

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