Mills unveils Maine bond plans in supplemental budget proposal

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A supplemental budget package proposed by Maine Gov. Janet Mills calls for boosting state reserves and issuing new bonds to finance infrastructure improvements.

Mills unveiled a $126 million supplemental budget plan Monday that calls for $100 million of bonds for transportation improvements and $15 million for expanding high-speed internet access. A $7.8 billion 2020-21 budget signed by Mills last June anticipates as much as $300 million of bonding over the two-year period.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills wants to boost state reserves and issue new bonds for infrastructure improvements.

The $100 million transportation bond package Mills pitched Tuesday was built into the Maine Department of Transportation's recently-released work plan. The governor’s supplemental budget also proposes $10 million from the general fund for the DOT to repair roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure. Voters approved a $105 million transportation bond referendum last November.

Mills' broadband bond proposal resembles a similar measure last year that failed to garner the necessary two-thirds support in the state legislature to reach the ballot.

Republicans in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and State Senate also rejected bond proposals for land conservation and workforce development citing fiscal concerns. The governor also said in her State of the State address she would once again seek legislative support for a conservation bond initiative to replenish the Land for Maine’s Future program.

The supplemental budget also proposes depositing $20 million into the state’s Rainy Day Fund on top of a $19 million contribution last year. Mills said the supplemental plan also leaves $6 million of additional funds on the table for the legislature to consider placing into the Budget Stabilization Fund.

“The economic forecast and revenue projections are generally positive, with more than half of the projected revenue being one-time funds, permitting us to identify specific needs to present to the Legislature in the form of a supplemental budget,” said Mills in a statement. “This supplemental budget is balanced.”

The budget proposal would allocate $3 million to fund capital equipment for career and technical education Centers across the state, which Mills had proposed for funding in her initial bond package last year. She is also seeking $4 million to modernize Maine National Guard armories and $4.5 million to improve wastewater treatment facilities, both items initially pitched in the 2019 bond proposal.

Maine’s general obligation bonds are rated Aa2 and AA by Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings with stable outlooks, respectively. The state has around $376 million of outstanding GO debt, according to Moody’s.

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