AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s budget-writing committee on Thursday came to an agreement on $95.6 million worth of bonds that may end up being considered by voters in November but first will have to clear the desk of Gov. Paul LePage.

The package is broken into five separate bonds, a move that Democrats worried would make it easier for LePage to cherry-pick which proposals he’ll support or reject. The package is weighted heavily toward transportation, with $51 million going toward related projects.

More than $41 million of the transportation package will be diverted directly to the Maine Department of Transportation to address a backlog of bridge and road projects.

Another bond includes $20 million for research and development projects that will be bid through the Maine Technology Institute.

An education bond totaling $11 million includes $8 million for the University of Maine Animal Health Lab and $3 million for Maine Community College System.

The fourth bond will divert nearly $8 million to water and sewer projects for wastewater system and clean water upgrades.


The committee also approved a $5 million bond for the Land for Maine’s Future program to secure deer wintering, hunting and recreational properties for public use.

The emerging proposals are the result of negotiations between lawmakers on the Appropriations Committee. If passed out of committee, they require two-thirds support of the Legislature before it arrives at LePage’s desk.

If the governor signs the bill, it will go to voters for final approval.

The last state bond package, for $49 million, was passed by voters in 2010.

The genesis of the package passed Thursday is unusual. Typically the governor introduces a bond package that is then worked on by the committee and ratified by the Legislature. Gov. Paul LePage, however, has refused to introduce or discuss a borrowing proposal until lawmakers address his proposal to fill an estimated $89 million budget gap at the Department of Health and Human Services.

That dynamic clouds the future of the five bonds. Democrats were particularly concerned that breaking the borrowing packages into pieces could make it easier for LePage to reject the ones he doesn’t like.


Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, said she was worried the bonds were “set up for failure.”

“We are concerned that the separate vote will set up one or more of the proposals to fail,” said Sen. Dawn Hill, D-York. “If all five bonds pass the Legislature, the Republicans have given the governor a menu of options to reject rather than a single bipartisan package that was negotiated in good faith that we could all stand behind.”

The governor this week reiterated that he would not support a borrowing proposal until lawmakers addressed settled the DHHS budget.

Steve Mistler — 791-6345


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