Monday, April 12, 2010

$9 million in funds for rail in western Maine, part of bonding bill going to voters in November

Here's a press release from the Governor's office on the bonding bill passed out of the Maine Legislature today. These are the bonds that will go to voters for approval in November.
It's an interesting breakdown of state spending including $16 million for rail, with $9 million of it for lines in southern and west-central parts of the state.

Governor Applauds Agreement on Job Creation Plan

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today applauded the bipartisan agreement reached in the Legislature on a job creation investment package. The Governor held a public signing of the legislation today at the State House.

“Once again, we have managed to overcome partisan differences and do what is right for our State,” Governor Baldacci said. “Last week, it appeared as if we had reached an impasse, but through hard work and patience we have crafted a job creation package that is responsible and balanced.”

Governor Baldacci worked directly with Legislative Leaders over the weekend to reach a compromise that was approved by the Legislature today.

“Democratic and Republican Leaders, including members of the Appropriations Committee, worked together in good faith to develop a job creation package that will put people to work this year, make critical investments in highways, rails and ports, and strengthen Maine’s economy.”

The bond package includes:

·        $24.8 million in highway construction and repair;

·        $7 million to protect rail service in Aroostook County;

·        $5 million to expand rail service in Lewiston-Auburn;

·        $4 million to help restore rail service in Western Maine along the Mountain Division Line;

·        $6.5 million for a new deep-water port in Portland;

·        $500,000 for the Small Harbor Improvement Program;

·        $5 million for the advanced equipment for the University of Maine to build a component manufacturing sector for wind power; and

·        $5 million for a community-based teaching clinic operated by a college of dental medicine and for upgrades to community-based health and dental care clinics around the State.

In addition, the agreement includes up to $7 million in cash that was originally slated for the State’s Budget Stabilization Fund to provide the balance of the resources necessary for the purchase of the Aroostook Rail line. It also includes language that would immediately place $7 million into the BSF with any year-end surplus.

The Governor will also issue an Executive Order creating an oversight panel that to monitor and review elements of the take over of the Aroostook rail line. The panel will assure transparency and guide policy questions during the transition to a new operator, and will include representatives of the Executive and Legislative Branches as well as private sector and nonprofit economic development representatives.

The agreement also makes changes in the current questions scheduled for the June ballot, including:

·        Part B is reduced by $1.25 million (The Small Enterprise Growth Fund is reduced from $5 million to $4 million; The Maine Historic Preservation Commission is reduced from $1.5 million to $1.25 million)

·        Part D is reduced by $12 million, eliminating the proposal to bond for energy efficiency programs;

·        Part E is reduced by $250,000 (Funding for working Maine waterfronts is reduced from $2 million to $1.75 million).

The investment package totals $57.8 million, with $13.5 million being eliminated from the current June ballot. Total new bonding in the proposal would be $44.3 million.

The bond package, which required a two-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, must now be approved by voters.


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