AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Legislature on Friday passed a pair of large bonding bills that ask the state’s voters to borrow as much as $150 million in the next budget cycle.
Included in a series of bills that were being voted on is $100 million for highways, bridges, ports and intermodal facilities, as well as $45 million to fuel a fund managed by the Maine Technology Institute and another $5 million aimed at luring entrepreneurs to the state.
On Friday afternoon, the House voted 147-4 to approve LD 1694, which would ask voters whether the state should sell $100 million in bonds for transportation infrastructure improvements. The bill stalled earlier in the week in the budget-writing Appropriations Committee when Democrats on the panel urged their colleagues to support a study to find additional ways to fund highway infrastructure improvements in light of declining gas tax revenue because of improving automobile fuel efficiency.
Lawmakers decided instead to go forward with the bond and have the Legislature’s Transportation Committee use its remaining meetings this year to develop a plan and recommend legislation for 2017.
The Senate later also approved the transportation bonding bill on a vote of 32-2, sending it to Gov. Paul LePage, who is expected to sign it and send the question to the ballot.
Any bonding proposals that make it through the process will appear as questions on the November state ballot.
Lawmakers are scurrying to complete their work before their constitutional adjournment date of April 20 and are expected to work well into the night Friday.