Bond issues make sense for Maine's future

We agree with Gov. Paul LePage on some things, and we disagree with him on others.

The wisdom of borrowing modestly to improve the state's future falls into the latter category.

LePage is a successful businessman, and that makes it difficult to see how opposing or holding up bond spending is a business-like decision.

No business would turn down an opportunity to invest $1 and get at least $3 or more in return, yet that is what the governor seems to be doing.

Question 2 would allow the state to borrow $11.3 million, $7.8 million of which would help build a new plant and animal diagnostic testing center at the University of Maine.

The amazing progress we have made in agricultural productivity has always been a "cooperative" venture between universities, farmers and consumers, that's partly why most states have Cooperative Extension Service programs and offices.

Beyond that, all of us need protection from salmonella, ticks, bed bugs and the mosquitoes that now spread serious diseases.

This facility would help identify and combat all these scourges.

Most Mainers don't know it, but the state has added 1,000 farms in the past decade and agriculture was a $614 million industry here in 2010.

The balance of the money would go toward capital investments in our college and community college systems.

In higher education, our workforce lags the rest of New England, as does our economy. We think these two problems are connected, and we think the solution is higher education and more technical training.

Maine voters always approve bond borrowing for road and bridge repairs, and we are sure they will approve the $51.5 million contained in Question 4.

This would be matched by as much as $105.6 million from the federal government to rebuild roads and bridges, plus it would put hundreds of people to work in our construction industries.

In turn, those dollars would roll through our economy, helping hundreds of Maine businesses.

Question 5 would have the same effect, in this case borrowing $7.9 million to pull down $39 million from the federal government for revolving loans to communities that need to update their drinking water and wastewater facilities.

We're familiar with the argument that it's "all our money," and that the federal government shouldn't be spending this money anyway.

But it is pointless for Maine not to recapture and reuse money its citizens and businesses send to Washington.

We see less direct economic return in Question 3, which would authorize $5 million in borrowing to purchase land and conservation easements to protect fish and wildlife habitat and conserve open farmland.

Worthy causes all, but the governor has correctly pointed out that when we are facing a large structural budget gap, we can only support those projects which have the largest and most immediate and positive economic impact.

The governor's spokesperson, Adrienne Bennett, told the Sun Journal in October that "we owe about $500 million to our hospitals" and that we must pay these bills before borrowing more.

Actually, the state owes about $150 million, which would enable the hospitals to access more than $300 million they are owed by the federal government.

We have already urged the governor to use money obtained by renegotiating the state's liquor contracts to pay the hospitals what we owe them.

And, again, the $300 million in federal money would help stimulate Maine's economy.

We urge voters to vote "yes" on Questions 2, 4 and 5, while using their best judgment on the land conservation issue, Question 3.

The governor's spokesperson has said the governor "doesn't have a credit card mentality."

Neither do we, but wise long-term investments can pay dividends that far exceed their initial value.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"No business would turn down

"No business would turn down an opportunity to invest $1 and get at least, $3 or more in return,yet that is what the governor seems to be doing."
You might turn it down if you had only 40 cents in your pocket and you'd have to borrow the 60 cents in order to get the $3 from the Feds, which of course, we all know is "free money".
Governor LePage is exercising some of the fiscal responsibility that's been absent from our various levels of government for over 40 years.
Way to go, Guv.

Zack Lenhert's picture

...against the mandate of his

...against the mandate of his constituents.

Zack Lenhert's picture

If I owned a drafty

If I owned a drafty inefficient house and had the opportunity to borrow money to insulate and upgrade the furnace I would be stupid not to. If the loan payment is less than the energy savings it's a net gain for me.

So yes, borrowing money and investing wisely CAN and DOES reduce deficits/debt. Anybody that tells you otherwise is oversimplifying the issues.

If these bonds pass will the Governor listen to the people's mandate? Or does he think he knows what's better for his constituents than they do?

Diana Currier's picture

.

I voted yes on all except the water. We all BUY our drinking water for the most part, and if they can find a body floating in the drin king water for days and say the water is fine to drink, I want no part of it anyway.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

And, the fish p...well, we

And, the fish p...well, we know what they do in it, don't we?

 's picture

We don't ALL...

...buy our water. There's plenty of that free from the tap. Bottled water is the biggest hoax, by far, ever purportrated on the American public.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Absolutely!

There have been many instances where the "bottlers" have been caught using tap water. And drinking out of anything plastic is not exactly healthy, either.

Diana Currier's picture

MUCH

rather drink that, then the tap water of this city, or any city for that matter.

 's picture

It's nice...

...you have money to waste. No recession at your house.

Diana Currier's picture

actually

its a couple bucks a six pack, i do nothing else guess I can afford it.What is up with folks jumping all over what people say??

 's picture

A couple of bucks a six pack...

How often?

Diana Currier's picture

CHHRRIIISSSTTTT

What is your problem? wanna come over and do my groceries FOR ME??? Whats the beef???? Maybe once maybe twice a week, IDK, I really haven't bought any at all this week, been drin king other s%^T. ok???Matter of fact haven't bought any for over a month, I live alone, sometimes it doesn't all get drank up.... BUT WHAT IS IT TO YOU?? I am way more than 21 , I don't have to answer to ANYONE now, TY for thinking about me tho. Also since you DO care so much I figure I quit smoking butts, I quit doing this and that I USED to do IF I want to "WASTE" my f$%ing money on water, I will do so.WTH? And just what do YOU drink a$$?!?

 's picture

I don't have a problem.

I said buying water was a waste of money. You said it wasn't, that it only cost $2.00 a six-pack. If you buy one six pack a week for 52 weeks that's over $100. It's good you have $100 or more to spend on something that, despite what others say here, is virtually free. A lot of folks don't have money to waste. Just trying to save you a little money, that's all. One of those pitchers with a filter is a one-time cost, plus replacement filters, but still a lot cheaper than water by the six pack in non-biodegradable plastic. If you want to spend the money needlessly, that's your business a$$?!? Fill up the land fills. Use fossil fuels to create the plastic and add to global warming. I don't care. I mostly drink milk, by the way. Very little water. It'll kill 'ya.

Diana Currier's picture

true

you are ALL right :) even the guy below this comment.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I agree with you that bottle

I agree with you that bottle water is the expensive alternative to tap water; however, tap water is by far from being free.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Good point, Mark. Lewiston

Good point, Mark. Lewiston water, which comes from Lake Auburn, is charged to the users on a quarterly basis, and then when it's flushed into the sewer system, you get charged again. No, tap water is not free unless it's coming from your well. But then, they charge you for the outgoing flush anyway.Oh, and then there is the Rain "Fee", but that's another story for another day.

Diana Currier's picture

a few years back

I was standing talking to a splash pool driver, he told me he was getting the water from there free.(Lake Auburn) So if he still is, is it because the water hasn't gone through the drill yet? I never thought to ask the guy, was surprised he could get it free actually. Because they have even more splash trucks now.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps they pump it straight

Perhaps they pump it straight from the lake; I don’t know.
Anyhow, trucks use gas and need maintenance, so that is an indirect cost for that water.

Diana Currier's picture

.

true

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Hard to believe he's getting

Hard to believe he's getting that water for free.

Diana Currier's picture

I swear it's what he said

IT was awhile back, like 6 or 7 years. I asked him because I know what they charge for a pool. They might have to pay now, I have no idea.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

To prove my point that

To prove my point that nothing is free, I’ll point out that even well water cost you because you have to pay for the electricity to pump the well. If you have a hand pump, you have to spend time pumping by hand which is lost opportunity to doing something else.
Truly, there is no free lunch – ever.

Diana Currier's picture

lol

even the cost of air went up

 's picture

Using your definition...

...nothing is free. What's your point?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Yep, many state and local

Yep, many state and local governments have fallen on the sword of federal matching funds.

Controlling debt is in fact a business like decision. The Governor is displaying fiscal discipline, something that few have done. Perhaps that is what makes the concept foreign.

Zack Lenhert's picture

Businesses borrow money and

Businesses borrow money and issue corporate bonds ALL THE TIME.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I think you are getting off

I think you are getting off track. The discussion was floating bonds to get federal matching dollars. The difference is a true need vs. let’s spend some money because of matching funds.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Bond issues make sense for Maine's future

lsj ® 9:19 am ish hst Saturday
. .when it comes to ballot items. .i usually vote ' yea ' . .simply because it got through the bureaucracy to make it that far !
Too bad your Hon. Senators missed the boat on the $$ former President Bush was giving away when that bridge collapsed in Milwaukee MN . .Then you wouldn't have had to pen this editorial
Too little too late ?
Write in King ? 
\/ote or they win . . ...
Republicans ? Don't just do something . Sit there •
/s, Steve ( more to follow :)

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

When did Milwaukee leave

When did Milwaukee leave Wisconsin? Guess we didn't get that memo here in good old Loyston, eh?

 's picture

Milwaukee...

...is in Wisconsin. It's bridges are fine.

 's picture

If you haven't learned by now...

...LePage's singlemindedness won't allow these bond issues, even if they are overwhelmingly approved because he is always right and everyone else is an idiot.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Yep, the federal government

Yep, the federal government borrows $0.40 on every dollar, yet people demand more spending. I will not go as far as to say there is a whole lot of idiots out there, but perhaps a lot of selfish individuals who don't care when the bill comes due.

Kudos for a forward looking governor who is not afraid to do the right thing regardless of popular and perhaps selfish opinions.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Heard an interesting one the

Heard an interesting one the other day; the feds spend $11 for every $7 thay take in. Try running your household that way.

Zack Lenhert's picture

Maine has never defaulted on

Maine has never defaulted on a bond, we pay our bills.

What state are you from? I assume it's not Maine (not sure what your doing trolling the Sun Journal)

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

For the same reason people

For the same reason people from Hawaii and Minnesota troll.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Lisbon Falls, ME.

Lisbon Falls, ME.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I see where the owners of

I see where the owners of Luigi's have bought the Graziano operation.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“We pay our bills.” Yea, not

“We pay our bills.”

Yea, not in a timely manner. Just ask CMC.

Look, I saved 50% buying this pair of shoes that I don’t need is kind of like floating bonds to get matching funds. Folks the money is not there.

 's picture

If I offered you three dollars...

...for every dollar you gave me, would you take it?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

If I do not have the dollar

If I do not have the dollar to give or dollars to maintain what I would buy with your three , then no. Moreover, those dollars come with strings attached.

Bob, you need to think past the offer and consider the long term implications of spending those dollars. That is something many people fail to do – except this governor.

This phenomenon just played out in my town where a rich individual donated money to build a small elementary school nearby. The town jumped on the offer – oops. They forgot the town has no money to neither staff the school nor pay for repairs. The school sits empty and is falling into disrepair. That is an example of the short-term thinking I hear from you.

Good thing the governor is on the ball.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You're trying to pick up the

You're trying to pick up the turd by the clean end, Mark.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Is the clean end the one that

Is the clean end the one that sits on top of the pile, as opposed to the first end out that usually is in contact with ghe ground?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

That is exactly the dilemma

That is exactly the dilemma one faces when attempting to reason with certain members of the liberal persuasion.

 's picture

What state...

...are you in?

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