Governor Unveils State’s Own Stimulus Package



AUGUSTA — Governor John Baldacci unveiled what he called Maine’s own stimulus package Wednesday, proposing $306 million in borrowing for transportation, energy-saving projects, research and development and preservation of Maine’s cultural and natural resources.

The $306-million bond package, which has preliminary support from both parties of the Legislature, would trigger another $380 million in federal matching funds.

“Our economy depends on investing in our people, in giving them the tools they need in order to be successful,” said Baldacci during a press conference in the State House. “The plan I’m proposing does that and does it in a way we can afford.”

Baldacci proposes voter approval of the spending in two phases, $265.8 million this November and the remaining $40.4 million in June 2010. The timing is designed to make the money overlap with some $900 million coming to Maine in federal stimulus money from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was approved by Congress last month.

Baldacci’s bond package proposes the following:

  • $127.8 million for roads, bridges, rail projects, ferries and aviation.
  • $52 million for energy efficiency projects and facility upgrades at the state’s universities, community colleges and Maine Maritime Academy.
  • $15.5 million for energy conservation and development of offshore wind power facilities.
  • $67.5 million for research and development grants, economic development and the redevelopment of Brunswick Naval Air Station, which is scheduled to close in 2011.
  • $43.4 million for Land for Maine’s Future, working waterfronts and environmental protection.

In the next couple of weeks, the Legislature will consider Baldacci’s plan along with about 30 bond proposals submitted by legislators. In addition, Baldacci said he planned to propose a more extensive energy initiative at his State of the State address March 10.

Baldacci acknowledged the tough economy, but insisted that his package of infrastructure spending that will create nearly 4,500 jobs on top of the thousands that will result from the stimulus funding. He also said investments that shift Maine’s energy dependence away from petroleum make sense in the long term.