AUGUSTA (AP) – Backers of an economic development bond package Thursday stepped up their efforts to promote passage of the $60 million borrowing measure in next month’s voting.

At a State House news conference, Gov. John Baldacci called the bond proposal “a very important part of the economic plan for Maine.”

The package is designed to raise $20 million for a biomedical research fund and $17 million more for other research and development initiatives.

Another $8 million would be earmarked for affordable housing, with $6 million going to a municipal investment trust fund.

A total of $4 million would go toward marine research, $3 million for agriculture and $2 million for applied technology development centers in South Portland, Fairfield, Rumford and Greenville.

The estimate of other funding that could be leveraged by application of the money raised by the proposed bond was set at more than $134 million.

Estimated interest payments over a 10-year period are about $14.5 million.

A statewide vote is scheduled for June 10.

The $60 million bond is worth $10 million less than Baldacci’s original proposal.

Beneficiaries of biomedical research funding could include the Foundation for Blood Research, the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, The Jackson Laboratory and the University of New England.

In voting to send the so-called jobs bond out for referendum in June, lawmakers put off final deliberations on a variety of other borrowing proposals.

The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, currently focusing on Baldacci’s latest budget-balancing bill, is expected to return to the topic of state borrowing in the next few weeks.

Individual items in the June bond package include:

$6 million for the University of Maine’s advanced engineered wood composites center;

$3 million for educational technology improvements at the University of Maine;

$3.6 million for University of Maine research and development activities;

$4.4 million for research and development facilities at the Portland campus of the University of Southern Maine.

The sum of $3 million would be earmarked for construction of the Gulf of Maine research laboratory in Portland, with $1 million to be made available for grants to nonprofit marine institutions for research and development.

The Maine Farms for the Future program would receive $2 million, with $1 million going to University of Maine agricultural research farms.

AP-ES-05-15-03 1543EDT



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