Business Breakfast in Bangor Focuses on Bonds
A state bond package was on the menu at a business breakfast in Bangor Wednesday. Folks who took part got a preview of how lawmakers will sort out more than $1.2 billion in bond requests in the next few weeks. Helping the state economy grow is not an easy problem to solve, but the speakers at the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce Early Bird breakfast, like State Senator Emily Cain, say it’s a necessary one.”We need to invest in roads and bridges, we must invest in research and development, we have to continue to invest in making our state a stronger place to do business. And I think a bond package is one of the essential elements of that.”Right now lawmakers are on track to sort through nearly 3 dozen bond requests.State Senator Andre Cushing says, “What you have before Appropriations right now is about $320 million in requests for research and development, $429 million in transportation and $100 million for water.”Governor LePage is also holding on to $100 million of bonds already approved by voters. He says he’ll release them when a plan to pay $484 million in hospital debt is settled.Cushing says, “I think that’s a problem for this construction season. We need to get that resolved so the governor will issue those transportation and infrastructure bonds and we can get people working.” Cushing says bonds – and the debate over how to use them – are valuable tools for improving the state.”Particularly when we can leverage some of the federal money available to take care of our infrastructure needs, ports, roads and things that make the economy work. I also recognize the concern that we have to be fiscally responsible.”Cain says, “There’s obviously some philosophical differences now and again about what types of borrowing we use and how we structure it but the bottom line is we all know we have to do something big and I think it can start this session with a responsible bond package.”Cain says she’s hoping lawmakers will craft a bond package for a few hundred million dollars.She expects public hearings on the bond requests to start next month.