August 17, 2013

LePage, legislative leaders reach $150 million bond agreement

The compromise package includes a borrowing plan for roads and bridges and education improvements.

By J. Craig Anderson canderson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Gov. Paul LePage and legislative leaders have reached an agreement over a state borrowing plan for road and bridge projects and improvements at higher education campuses.

click image to enlarge

In this February 2011 file photo, Gov. Paul LePage speaks with the media. LePage and Democrats have struck a deal on a $150 million transportation bond.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, right, and House speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, speak to reporters Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at the State House in Augusta, Gov. LePage and Democrats have struck a deal on a $150 million transportation bond. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Proposed bond package by the numbers

• Highway and bridges: $76 million
• Other transportation: $24 million
• University of Maine system: $15.5 million
• Maine Community College system: $15.5 million
• Maine Maritime Academy: $4.5 million
• Maine armory maintenance and renovation: $14 million
• Total: $149.5 million

Source: Gov. Paul LePage’s office

The offices of LePage, House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick; Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland; and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, announced the proposed $149.5 million bond package in written statements issued Friday.

The compromise package would include $100 million for improvements to highways, bridges, ports and railroads.

It also would include $35.5 million for higher education and $14 million for maintenance and improvements to Maine’s military armory.

LePage said Wednesday that a breakthrough was at hand in the stalemate between his administration and Democratic legislative leaders over such a state borrowing plan.

Projects in line for funding include a proposal to extend rail service to the International Marine Terminal on Portland’s waterfront to accommodate a new shipping company. Money also could be used to expand facilities at community colleges, allowing many more students to attend.

The governor, who met with Democratic leaders early Wednesday in Alfond’s office, said he told leaders that he would support a bond package of no more than $150 million, and that the plan must go to voters by November.

Democratic leaders had issued a brief statement Wednesday that confirmed the meeting without indicating that an agreement had been reached, a sign that negotiations likely continued through Friday.

Lawmakers typically negotiate bond proposals as they do the state’s two-year budget, offering little comment until a deal is reached.

LePage has been pushing his proposal for a $100 million transportation bond to fund roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects right away. Democrats have said they support the proposal but want to make sure that bonding for higher education infrastructure, conservation projects and research and development is also included.

No funds for conservation or research and development were included in the proposed bond package announced Friday.

-- Staff Writer Steve Mistler contributed to this report.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

canderson@pressherald.com

Twitter: @jcraiganderson

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