Maine Legislature

House Democratic Office




August 23, 2013

Contact: Ann Kim 287-1488, cell: 233-1838




Comprehensive $150 million package invests in infrastructure, higher ed, armories


Who in Maine hasnít had experience with our stateís rough roads? Their condition is more than an annoyance. It can prevent businesses from moving their goods effectively and keep workers from traveling to and from their places of employment safely.


Good morning. Iím Representative Ann Peoples of Westbrook. Thank you for tuning in.


Iím a member of the Legislatureís Transportation Committee, so Iím well aware how important our roads, bridges, ports and other parts of our transportation infrastructure are to our state. Iím pleased to say that transportation projects are a big part of a comprehensive $150 million bond proposal slated to go to voters in November.


And Iím also very happy that the proposal goes beyond our roads and bridges.


It makes critical investments to support the higher education institutions that prepare our future workforce and it also provides funds to maintain the armories where are service men and women train.


This is a robust bond package that will create much-needed jobs and strengthen our stateís economy.


This package won the unanimous support of the Legislatureís Appropriations Committee a couple of days ago. Later 

this week, lawmakers will return to the State House to take up the bond proposal Ė and I do believe that this bipartisan package will again have broad support.


Weíll be considering our roads. They get poor grades from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which found that their condition costs Maine motorists $246 million annually in additional vehicle repairs and operating costs. That equates to $245 per motorist Ė real money out of household budgets.


Thereís also enormous need in our higher education infrastructure. Within the University of Maine System, 70 percent of the space has not been renovated in 25 years or more. The community college system, meanwhile, could enroll an additional 2,400 students if it constructed and renovated space. These improvements can help Maine meet the demand for skilled workers.


The proposed higher education projects span the state, from Wells to Fort Kent and from Calais to Farmington. They include improvements and expansion of areas for the science, technology, engineering and math fields, lab space and needed equipment.


This bonding plan will not only help Maine workers gain new skills, but will help our state be a place where workers want to stay and use the skills theyíve gained.


In putting together this proposal, lawmakers took to heart the advice of economic experts and industry leaders. They said that given the current low interest rates and the enormous needs of our infrastructure, investing in a borrowing package now makes sense. 


Democrats and Republicans put differences aside to craft a plan that will put money into our economy, help the workforce and create jobs. In divided government, you have to compromise. We Democrats didnít get everything we would have liked at this time.


Many of us pushed for investments in research and development, but we weren't able to overcome opposition to including those on the November ballot. We did secure a commitment to take up an R&D bond in January. Itís one that will focus on bridging the gap between the laboratory and marketplace Ė an investment that will grow high-demand, high-paying jobs for our state.


R& D is a smart investment in our future.  Every dollar of state research and development investment returns $12 in economic benefits to Maine. I am looking forward to making those investments.


But in the immediate future, Iím looking to focus on our pressing infrastructure needs. Making these investments sooner rather than later is a win for Maine people, our state and our economy.


Iím Representative Ann Peoples of Westbrook. Thank you for listening.