As lawmakers enter final negotiations on the budget, we thought it would be a good idea to see how much $16 million — the amount that would-be Great Northern Paper Mill investors will collect from the state’s general fund through “sham transactions” — could have done for Maine taxpayers.
Here’s how those investments work, as reported recently by The Portland Press Herald:
So what could we have done with that $16 million? Here are a few ideas.
You could have completely filled USM’s budget gap.
USM eliminated 51 faculty positions and five programs in 2015 in an effort to balance a $16 million budget gap.
You could bring high-speed wireless cell service to Eastern Maine. And have a lot left over.
Wireless Partners was granted a $3.4 million loan this week to bring LTE service to Washington and Hancock county — one fourth the cost of this tax break.
You could provide an entire K-12 education for 123 Maine kids.
According to data from the 2012-2013 school year, Maine spends $10,021.47 per student per year. For 13 years of education, that covers 123 students.
Provide general assistance for asylum seekers in Portland for 4 years.
The Portland City Council approved a budget Wednesday night to continue providing aid to asylum seekers, despite the fact that the state funding for that program remains very much in doubt. According to the Press Herald, that’s expected to cost at least $4 million over the next year — one-fourth of $16 million.