Deal reached on Maine bonds

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine legislative negotiators have reached a deal on a scaled-back $57.8 million bond package that still retains money for major elements including highways and preservation of a northern Maine railroad, officials announced Monday.

Agreement by House and Senate leaders from both parties set the stage for final approval later in the day. The bonds would go before state voters in June.

The new bond figure is lower than the $85 million package that was approved last week by the House but fell short of final passage in the Senate, where Republicans held back their votes.

The compromise reached over the weekend not only lowers the total for this package but also scales back a $68.75 million bond package that’s already scheduled for a June vote by $13.5 million.

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For the latest bond package, it reduces by $10 million the nearly $35 million that had been earmarked for highways, and borrows only $7 million instead of $17 million for the purchase and preservation of 233 miles of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway track in Aroostook County.

Another $10 million of money for the railroad, which is seen as a crucial shipping corridor for northern Maine industries, would be comprised of $7 million from the budget stabilization fund and $3 million from private sources.

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