Maine needs a strong bond package in 2012 to fix its crumbling infrastructure, said the legislative director at the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

“With borrowing costs at historic lows, it makes little sense to delay new investments,” Dan Coyne wrote in an op-ed column in Lewiston’s Sun Journal.

Coyne cited a huge jobs deficit in the state, saying more than 100,000 Mainers are unemployed or underemployed.

“A responsible bond package in 2012 for infrastructure, research and development, and other key investments could create jobs now and pave the way for future economic growth and shared prosperity,” Coyne wrote.

Despite its economic struggles, Maine’s bond capacity remains strong, he said. Maine’s tax-supported debt per capita is $865, much less than the national median of $1,066.

Furthermore, Maine’s tax-supported debt as a percentage of personal income is 2.4%, also lower than the national median of 2.8%.

Maine only uses its general-obligation bonds to fund infrastructure improvements, not to cover operating costs, according to Coyne.

“The case for bonds now is compelling. … The Legislature and [Gov. Paul LePage] must act to prevent further decay of Maine’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure,” Coyne wrote.

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