Weekly Radio Address: Miramant says smart bond package will build better future for Maine

Posted: July 14, 2017 | Senator Miramant, Weekly Radio Address
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Text of Radio Address, aired July 15:

Hi, this is Senator Dave Miramant from Camden. Thanks for tuning in.

As the lead Senate Democrat on the Transportation Committee, I get regular briefings and information about the condition of Maine’s critical system of roads, bridges, highways and other transportation infrastructure. But you don’t need to be a state senator to learn what we know.

Any Mainer who’s ever cursed that giant pothole that never seems to be repaired, or who’s seen a bridge posted because it’s structural integrity isn’t what it used to be, knows what we know: Our transportation infrastructure needs a little TLC.

A solid infrastructure facilitates commerce and helps the economy. It also saves individual Mainers money by reducing the amount they need to spend on auto repairs associated with bad roads and highways. But a report last year from American Society of Civil Engineers gave Maine a C-minus for maintaining our infrastructure — the same grade we earned in 2012. We have to do better.

Repairing and renovating infrastructure, let alone building new from the ground up, costs money, and lots of it — especially for a sprawling rural state like ours. Costs from engineering, materials, labor and more add up quickly. That’s why every year, there’s a $160 million gap between the amount of transportation construction that needs to be done, and the amount we have on hand to pay for it.

That’s why the state takes out bonds — to pay for necessary investment opportunities in our state that we would otherwise miss.

Next week, the Legislature will consider several bond proposals on the table, including a $100 million transportation bond I’ve introduced for highways, bridges and multimodal facilities, as well as a $50 million bond for the enhancement and expansion of rail service in our state. Passing these bonds on to voters, who will ultimately decide whether to approve them, would go a long way toward improving our infrastructure. They would create jobs in the short term, and promote economic development and activity in the long term.

But infrastructure isn’t the only issue up for consideration through bonding. Democrats will also advocate for an innovative bond bill sponsored by Sen. Nate Libby, which would directly address the crushing burden of student debt through a state forgiveness and refinancing program. This bond would stimulate Maine’s economy by giving graduates with heavy debt loads more money to spend in the local economy, rather than ship out of state to giant student debt holders.

There’s not much time left in this legislative session. Democrats will spend what time we have left fighting for a smart, responsible bond package that invests in our state and its people.

This is Senator Dave Miramant. Thanks for tuning in.