Bonds: A Prudent Investment with a Big Payoff

If your roof were leaking, would you delay repairs while the problem worsens? With Maine’s roads and bridges crumbling, doesn’t it also make sense to invest in fixing them before the deterioration becomes even more costly?  

Maine needs a bond package this year. Not since 1962 has Maine gone an entire biennium without a bond package for capital investment in the infrastructure that supports our businesses, fuels economic growth, creates jobs, saves taxpayer’s money, and strengthens our economy.

Since 1996, the Maine Legislature has sent an average of $83 million per year in bond proposals to the Maine voters. Ninety-seven percent of these have been approved leveraging an average $135 million per year in additional matching funds. Voters understand that we must repair unsafe roads and bridges, enhance downtowns and job centers, and invest in technology that drives new business.  They also appreciate that these investments create jobs- an estimated 15.3 for every $1 million in infrastructure spending –at a time when 50,000 Mainers remain unemployed in the wake of the Great Recession.

Maine's Bonding History, 1996-2010

Just as a prudent homeowner makes repairs when they are needed and when she can afford them, so should farsighted legislators.

Interest rates have never been lower, so if you take out a home equity loan now, you will pay less interest than if you wait. Plus you can get a tax rebate on new, energy-efficient windows.. If your roof leaks and your windows are drafty, you can’t afford not to make these repairs now.

The same is true of Maine state government. Interest rates are lower than ever.  And as MECEP Executive Director Garrett Martin explained in a recent (Lewiston) Sun Journal op ed,

“Maine has a strong record of fiscally responsible debt management.”

There is a backlog of road and bridge projects and other repairs that will only be more expensive next year. Federal funds will help stretch state dollars. Voters are sick of wear and tear on their cars from potholes and crumbling roads, deteriorating downtowns, and interminable waits for Internet downloads.

Maine citizens and businesses need safe roads and bridges, high-speed Internet, functional downtowns, and innovative research and development to prosper and create jobs. We cannot afford to wait another year.