The Press Herald’s view is that “Mainers should vote ‘yes’ on all bond issues Nov. 5” (Our View, Oct. 27). The reasons pointed out would lend to a favorable nod from voters. However, more information is needed before deciding.
Maine is currently on the hook for $400 million in previously issued bonds and an additional $200 million set to be issued soon. So if you tally those numbers with the $182.4 million the five bonds represent – the PPH neglected to mention the $32.9 million in interest charges – we would be in debt to the tune of $782.4 million!
Per the 2011 U.S. Census, we carried $5.9 billion in debt while making $10.6 billion in total revenue. This does not seem that bad until you see that in 2011, we had $7.2 billion in expenses.
Maine has an advantage with federal matching money, as we take in more federal dollars than we send back to Washington, so Question 3 is a “yes.” Past that, we need to look at return on investment.
The University of Maine System is a fiscal mess and needs to look for cost savings versus asking for $18.9 million (principal and interest). This past fiscal year they collected $195 million from us plus the tuition payments from roughly 11,000 students. Question 2 is a “no.”
Question 4 asks for $4.5 million for Maine Maritime Academy, which produces career-ready students. Vote “yes” on 4. Same for Question 5, as our community college system is quickly becoming the backbone of our economy.
That leaves Question 1 for $14 million for our Army National Guard. We need these men and women to be fully prepared, so with federal money and our “yes” vote, the opportunity is there.