This week, my Administration announced an investment strategy to improve our economy, to address some of the critical challenges facing our state, and to position us to succeed in the years to come.
These are the goals of the bond package we submitted to the Legislature.
Good morning, I am Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.
The first critical challenge facing our state addressed by the bond package is access to high speed internet.
About 83,000 households in Maine do not have access to broadband and, right now, the ConnectME is only able to fund small projects a few at a time.
With the availability of faster internet speeds, it is time we change that. We can no longer be a slow speed state in a 5G nation.
So, the first pillar of our proposed bond package invests $30 million in broadband expansion. This will enable the ConnectME Authority to leverage private and local investments to bring high speed internet access to more unserved and underserved areas of our state – and along with that, the businesses and people we need to expand our economy.
High speed internet is just one critical tool that our state needs to succeed.
To break down the barriers to innovation, and to welcome creative ideas, and to build a diverse and sustainable economy, we need to invest in research and development.
So, the bond proposal invests $15 million in the Maine Technology Institute for research and development and $5 million for infrastructure, equipment and technology upgrades for businesses to create and preserve jobs.
This money will help create good-paying jobs in emerging industries in every region of our great state. Now there also must be skilled workers ready to fill those jobs.
So, our bond proposal also invests $19 million to support workforce training, career and technical education and their capital needs, and access to child care, among other initiatives.
Education and technical training are key to ensuring that every person can achieve skills to get a good-paying job no matter where they live and no matter their age in our state.
You know as a mother of five daughters, I also know that even if you have a good-paying job or are working full time as a parent in this state, it can be very difficult to balance family needs and work needs.
So, we need to attract young families with children to Maine. We also need young parents to be able to work in Maine. And you know, work and raising a child are not necessarily incompatible.
So, our proposal provides $5 million to expand childcare facilities across the state.
Another major focus of the Administration is to protect Maine’s environment and to shepherd in an era of clean energy and good-paying jobs associated with that industry.
So, the bond package we proposed provides a $65 million investment in Maine’s environment, beginning with a $30 million investment over three years for the very popular Land for Maine’s Future program.
Our bond package also provides $20 million in hazardous materials cleanup and drinking water treatment, $10 million in municipal energy projects, with more efficient heating technology, and $5 million in low interest loans for clean energy projects for homeowners in Maine.
All of this pretty much carries matching funds of various sorts.
The last pillar of our investment package is a $105 million transportation bond to pay for critical upgrades in improvements to transportation infrastructure.
You know, the American Society of Civil Engineers has graded Maine’s infrastructure a “C-”, and they ranked Maine’s roads even lower at a “D”. Well we feel that every day when our cars hit those potholes. I think it’s time to address this.
With this bond package we will expand broadband to more rural areas, we’ll build a skilled workforce, we’ll repair roads and bridges, and we will welcome clean energy projects which create jobs and which address climate change.
This bond package will also leverage federal and private matching funds with at least a 1:1 match on nearly all of these bonds.
This investment strategy, along with the state budget, will tackle our challenges head on, it will continue to diversify our economy and it will make Maine the best place in the nation to live, work, and raise a family.
I look forward to working with the Legislature on this proposal and to sending it to the people of Maine, including all of you listening, for your thoughtful consideration.
I am Governor Janet Mills, thank you for listening.