AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Legislature will go back to work next week -- theoretically, just for one day -- to pass a borrowing plan for transportation and other needs.
Late Monday afternoon, Gov. Janet Mills joined Democratic leaders to summon lawmakers back next Monday to vote on new bonds.This would address the funding concerns raised last week by Maine’s Transportation Commissioner, but it would also provide money for other projects.
Legislators were unable to agree on a borrowing package before they adjourned in June but agreed the needs for new bond still exist.
Bonds are how the state borrows money for most major capital projects, whether its roads or land conservation. Both of those needs are included in the package announced by the Governor. The total is $163 million, far less that the $239 million plan that failed in June. The Transportation bond remains the same -- more than $104 million for road and bridge construction and other transportation priorities.
There will also be separate bonds to fund broadband expansion, a variety of environmental and energy projects, along with rebuilding the Land for Maine’s Future conservation program.
Democratic Sen. Cathy Breen, co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, says she hopes that program in particular gets support.
“It has enjoyed success at the polls every single time, so I think if new can get it to the voters, I think they will embrace it as they have in the past.”
In the June vote, Democrats wanted all the bonds passed as a single package, which Republicans blocked. This new proposal has four separate bonds: Transportation; Infrastructure/Economic Development, which includes broadband; Environment/Energy Conservation; and Land Conservation.
Senate GOP Leader Dana Dow says he cannot predict how some of the votes will go.
“I know the transportation bonds will pass easily. The others -- I think some of them will pass. We will wait and see,” Dow tells NEWS CENTER Maine.
Dow says Republicans have not been included in much of the negotiation over bonds, but GOP votes will be needed to get the required two-thirds majority for bonds to pass and be sent to the voters in November.