ELECTION 2018: Maine voters to decide on $106 million in transportation bonds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The fall ballot in Maine will once again ask voters whether to approve millions in bonds for transportation uses.

Question 3 on the Nov. 6 statewide ballot will ask voters about a plan to fund $106 million in road and bridge work, and other transportation purposes throughout the state. The question was added to the fall ballot after Maine state lawmakers acted earlier this year to authorize placing the initiative on the ballot via Legislative Draft 1815.

Passage of the transportation bond initiative would result in $80 million in general obligation bonds for construction and maintenance of highways and bridges. The state’s ports, harbors, transit and freight rail, and bicycle and pedestrian trails would receive $20 million. Another $5 million would be applied to culvert upgrades.

The money is used to support the Maine Department of Transportation’s work plan.

A year ago, voters approved a $105 million bond to fund transportation projects.

During the past 11 years, Ballotpedia reports that Maine voters have approved eight transportation bond issues with a combined total of $673 million in bonds.

Supporters say this year’s bond issues are needed to secure an estimated $137 million in federal matching funds, and other 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.

Advocates contend that the state relies on fuel taxes, and registration and excise fees for a majority of the state’s revenue. But as vehicles have become more fuel-efficient, they add that revenue into the highway fund has declined, limiting necessary investments in infrastructure projects.

Maine residents can access online registration and absentee voting requirements.

For more 2018 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

 

 

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