ELECTION 2016: Maine voters to decide on $100 million in transportation bonds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, October 17, 2016

The November ballot in Maine will ask voters whether to approve a $100 million transportation bond initiative.

Question 6 on the Nov. 8 ballot will ask voters about a plan to fund highway and bridge work throughout the state.

Passage of the question would result in $80 million designated for construction and maintenance of state highways and local bridges. The remaining $20 million would be used for the state’s ports, harbors, transit and freight rail, and bicycle and pedestrian trails.

Supporters say the bonds are needed to secure an estimated $137 million in federal matching funds for transportation work in the state.

Opponents say it’s not good business to rely on borrowing to pay for projects. Instead, they say the state would be better served to increase the tax rates on gas and diesel to pay for needed work and to match federal funds. They say the tried-and-true method of raising revenue is fairer, cheaper and more efficient.

Rep. Andrew McLean, D-Gorham, provided public comments in support of the ballot question.

“Maine’s highway fund ... relies on fuel taxes, and registration and excise fees for a majority of its revenue,” McLean wrote. “But as vehicles have become more fuel-efficient, revenue into the highway fund has declined, limiting necessary investments in infrastructure projects.”

McLean acknowledges that Question 6 is a temporary fix.

“A long-term solution is needed. It will take negotiation and, most important, public pressure.”

For more 2016 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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