Forecaster Forum: Bond package will spur economy

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This week, the Legislature took its final votes. One important vote was for the passage of a bond package.

The package is critical to stimulating jobs and investing in our future. But most importantly, it is up to the voters of Maine to have a say. I think all voters in the state should be able to decide if we’d like to invest in these projects or not.

There were two very important projects that I am confident will directly benefit Scarborough. First, the deep-water berth in Portland Harbor is going to make a significant difference for tourism in our area because it will allow larger and more cruise ships into the greater Portland area – a boom for many local businesses, as well as a huge asset to industry, because the berth will host more than just cruise ships.

Additionally, the bond package features an important investment in dental care around the state and will help to build a new dental school at the University of New England in Biddeford.

The economic analysis tells us that, in total, it will result in the protection or creation of nearly 2,000 jobs statewide. Additionally, we will likely see a multiplier effect of jobs and growth around key provisions such as the Portland ship berth, the dental school at UNE and the wind energy fund.

Moreover, the Department of Transportation estimates that failure to rescue the northern Maine railroad could result in more than $60 million in road maintenance for repairs from wear and tear caused by truck traffic from the rerouting of goods previously shipped by rail. That is three times the cost of purchasing the railroad.

The bond package is also financially responsible. Maine has a conservative bonding record, strong credit and a track record of quickly repaying debt. The state has a low debt burden and pays its debts quickly.

Whether or not you support these types of investments, don’t you, as a voter, want the opportunity to accept or reject them at the ballot box? Voting in favor on the bonds gives Mainers that opportunity, and I think it’s a good one.

State Rep. Sean Flaherty of Scarborough is a Democrat who represents District 127.