October 30, 2013

Another View: Paper’s sweeping endorsement of bond issues overlooks key data

Most of the proposals make sense, but Question 2 – aiding the fiscally mismanaged university system – is a ‘no.’

By Andrew Soucy of Biddeford

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.

about the author

Andrew Soucy is a resident of Biddeford.

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.

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