In a time of government austerity, why are taxpayers being asked to pay for private projects?

This should have been the question that legislators on the Transportation Committee asked before they approved a resolution that would fund a new feasibility study for the fabled east-west highway with $300,000 from the state’s highway fund.

According to Rep. Richard Cebra, R-Naples, Maine taxpayer dollars need to be spent because investors in the proposed road “deserve a study they can have confidence in.”

Really? The proposed toll road will be privately owned. The revenue generated by the toll road also will be private. The prospective investors in the road are private. So why are taxpayers being asked to pay to make these investors more confidant their money is safe?

There is no evidence that the road will result in sustainable economic growth for our state, so why are we already being asked to pay into it? In a period of economic recession, when budgets are being cut and the governor insists that we spend even less, it is hypocritical to start sponsoring private ambitions with public funds.

If Peter Vigue, the mastermind behind the newest east-west highway plan, wants to make his investors feel more comfortable, he should pay for the study himself, not ask for a government handout.

Peter McGuire


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