January 17, 2020
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Maine voters approve $100M in housing, infrastructure bonds

Ben McCanna | The Forecaster
Ben McCanna | The Forecaster
The roadway leading to the Martin's Point Bridge is under construction in Falmouth.

BANGOR, Maine — Mainers have voted to borrow $100 million to fund elderly housing projects and highway and bridge improvements, according to projections by the Bangor Daily News.

Question 2 asked voters whether they favored a $15 million bond issue for the construction of new homes and renovation of existing ones for low-income seniors. Supporters say that will be matched by about $22.6 million in private investment.

At least one housing project would be located in each of Maine’s 16 counties. Funding preference go to locations within counties that have nearby access to services such as health care and public transportation.

Question 3 asked whether Mainers wanted to issue an $85 million bond for transportation projects. The first $65 million will go toward building, reconstructing and rehabilitating bridges and highways, with the other $17 million going toward projects at ports, harbors, airports, railroads, bicycle and pedestrian trails.

The federal government will match that with $121.5 million dedicated to Maine transportation.

Mainers have a history of supporting bond initiatives. Between 1990 and 2014, Maine voters passed 82 percent of bonds, according to a study by James Melcher, a University of Maine at Farmington political scientist. They did even better in lower-turnout fall elections in odd-numbered years, winning nearly 85 percent of the time.

In addition, transportation bonds have passed 15 of 18 times since 1990, but the ones that lost called for narrower investment in ports, rail, oil tank removal and state sand and salt facilities. Melcher called a broad-based bond “a prohibitive favorite to win” in an email.

There’s less precedent for something like Question 2. The last Maine bond proposal like it was in 2001, when voters approved $12 million for affordable housing and housing for domestic violence victims.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.

 



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