Maine voters will consider a pair of statewide bond issues totaling $100 million plus interest when they go to the polls for the general election on Nov. 3. Both proposals were approved by two-thirds of both houses of the 127th Legislature before being submitted for inclusion on the ballot.
Question 2 seeks $15 million, to be matched by $22.6 million in private and other funds, for construction of energy-efficient affordable homes, the adaptive reuse of structures for homes and weatherization of existing homes for low-income seniors. The funds would be allocated to project developers on a competitive basis. The Maine State Housing Authority would be required to give preference to projects in locations with access to health care and other essential goods and services. At least four projects must be located in counties with populations of fewer than 100,000 residents.
Decisions concerning investment in housing in Maine should be left to the marketplace, not funded by taxes.
Question 3, if approved, would provide $85 million for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities and equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails.
Included in that amount is $3.5 million that will allow the Maine Port Authority to complete the purchase of the Marine Atlantic Ferry Terminal on Eden Street in Bar Harbor for eventual use as a cruise ship facility.
The lion’s share of the bond issue – $68 million – would be used primarily to construct, reconstruct or repair state highways that have been designated as Priority 1, 2 or 3 by the Department of Transportation. It also would provide funds to repair secondary roads in partnership with municipalities, which must contribute 50 percent or more of the project costs.
The remaining $17 million of the bond issue would fund a variety of projects that preserve public safety or otherwise demonstrate high economic value in terms of transportation.
The bond issue is expected to generate an estimated $121.5 million in additional federal and other funds.
Maine’s transportation infrastructure is essential to our state’s economy, and funds for the purchase of the Marine Atlantic property are vital to creating a facility that will ease downtown congestion on cruise ship days and enhance visitors’ experiences in Bar Harbor. Question 3 merits approval by voters.