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Governor’s Address: Our bond package will position us to succeed in the years to come

This week, my Administration announced an investment strategy to improve our economy, address some of the critical challenges facing our state, and position us to succeed in the years to come. These are the goals of the bond package we submitted to the Legislature.

The first critical challenge facing our state addressed by this bond package is access to high speed internet. About 83,000 households in Maine do not have access to broadband, and ConnectME is currently able to fund only a few small projects at a time. With the availability of faster internet speeds, it’s time we change that. We can no longer be a slow-speed state in a 5G nation. 

The first pillar of our proposed bond package invests $30 million in broadband expansion. This will enable the ConnectME Authority to leverage private and local investments to bring high speed internet access to more unserved and underserved areas of our state, reaching the people and businesses we need to expand our economy.

High speed internet is just one critical tool that our state needs to succeed. To break down barriers to innovation, welcome creative ideas, and build a diverse and sustainable economy, we need to invest in research and development.

Our bond proposal invests $15 million in the Maine Technology Institute for research and development and $5 million for infrastructure, equipment, and technology upgrades for businesses to create and preserve jobs. This money will help create good-paying jobs in emerging industries in every region of our state. 

We must also have skilled workers ready to fill those jobs. Our bond proposal invests $19 million to support workforce training, career and technical education and their capital needs, and access to child care, among other initiatives. Education and technical training are key to ensuring that every person can acquire skills to get a good-paying job, regardless of their age or where they live in our state.

As a mother of five daughters, I know that, even if you have a good-paying job or are working full-time as a parent in this state, it can be very difficult to balance the needs of work and family. We need to attract young families with children to Maine, so we need young parents to be able to work in Maine. Our proposal provides $5 million to expand childcare facilities across the state. 

Another major focus of my Administration is to protect Maine’s environment by shepherding in an era of clean energy and the good-paying jobs associated with that industry. The bond package we proposed provides a $65 million investment in Maine’s environment, beginning with a $30 million investment, over three years, for the very popular Land for Maine’s Future program.

Our bond package also provides $20 million in hazardous materials cleanup and drinking water treatment, $10 million in municipal energy projects utilizing more efficient heating technologies, and $5 million in low-interest loans for clean energy projects for homeowners. All of this carries matching funds of various sorts.

The last pillar of our investment package is a $105 million transportation bond to pay for critical upgrades to our transportation infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers has graded Maine’s infrastructure a “C-”.  They have ranked Maine’s roads even lower, at a “D”.  We all feel those grades every day when our cars hit those potholes. I think it’s time to address this.

With this bond package, we will expand broadband to more rural areas, build a skilled workforce, repair roads and bridges, and welcome clean energy projects that create jobs while addressing climate change. This package will also leverage federal and private matching funds with at least a 1:1 match on nearly all of these bonds.

Along with the state budget, this investment strategy will tackle our challenges head-on, continue to diversify our economy, and make Maine the best place in the nation to live, work, and raise a family. I look forward to working with the Legislature on this proposal and to sending it to the people of Maine – including all of you reading this – for your thoughtful consideration. 

Thank you.

Janet Mills

Governor

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