Maine voters appeared to say “Yes” to $50 million in bonds intended to spark economic growth by investing in infrastructure improvements, biomedical research facilities and lending projects for small businesses.

With about 40 percent of the vote in, most of the bond issues were winning comfortably, with 60 percent or more of the vote. One bond proposal – Question 5 to expand a biological lab – was winning by a narrower margin with 52 percent of the vote.

The $50 million in borrowing proposals – featured as questions 2 through 7 on the ballot – faced tough competition for voters’ attention during an election dominated by the race for governor, a close contest for the 2nd Congressional District and a contentious battle over bear baiting that appeared as Question 1.

Numerous groups have been airing television ads or using other media to rally voter support for the bonds in recent weeks, particularly in support of state borrowing for water quality projects and investments in the state’s marine-based industries. There was no organized opposition to the bonds, although some critics of state borrowing did question the state’s reliance on bonds.

General obligation bonds are one of the ways that state and local governments borrow money to pay for big-ticket projects. In Maine, bonds are typically paid off, or “retired,” within 10 years.

Question 2: Provides $8 million to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service to create an animal and plant disease and insect control laboratory.


Question 3: Provides $4 million to back loans to eligible small businesses plus $8 million for direct loans to eligible businesses to be administered by the Finance Authority of Maine.

Question 4: Provides $10 million to build a facility dedicated to advanced, mammalian genetics research at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. The bonds would leverage $11 million in matching funds.

Question 5: Provides $3 million to expand a biological laboratory and biotechnology workforce training facility “specializing in tissue repair and regeneration” at MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor. The bonds will leverage $5.7 million in matching funds.

Question 6: Provides $10 million to finance water quality projects, with money targeted toward improvements to stream crossings and culverts, wetlands restoration, as well as drinking water and wastewater treatment projects.

Question 7: Provides $7 million to be awarded on a competitive basis to businesses, nonprofits, academic institutions or community-based organizations for ventures aimed at creating jobs or growth in commercial fishing, aquaculture, seafood processing or marketing of Maine seafood products.

As of Sept. 30, Maine had a total of $449.6 million in outstanding bond debt, including anticipated interest costs. State Treasurer Neria Douglass has estimated that the six measures would cost the state up to $11 million in interest, although that figure is based on a 4 percent interest rate that is significantly higher than current rates..

Staff Writer Joe Lawlor contributed to this report.

Comments are no longer available on this story