AUGUSTA – The head of the Maine Municipal Bond Bank said Wednesday he will again try to sell a $50 million transportation bond next week, now that the markets have settled down.

Robert Lenna, executive director of the bond bank, told members of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee that three weeks ago he could not sell the bond.

“Things do appear to be getting a little bit better,” he said. “The slow process of rebuilding confidence has started.”

Lenna said the crisis on Wall Street and the uncertainty about a federal bailout meant he had to delay the sale. In recent days, he said he has sold about $100 million in municipal bonds for schools and towns.

He cautioned the committee that although the bonds will be sold, the interest rates are starting to climb.

“You will have to assume you’ll pay significantly higher interest rates,” he said.

Also Wednesday, the committee got an update on the status of the state’s highway fund for the 2010-11 budget year.

At this point, there’s a $348 million gap between expected expenses and anticipated revenues, according to the state budget office. The total budget for the two-year period is projected at more than $1 billion.

The gap in highway money is in addition to a $500 million gap in the state’s general fund, which has a projected budget of $6.8 billion over two years.

Gov. John Baldacci has asked all departments to cut their budgets by 10 percent in an effort to close the gap. He will consider those recommendations and present a balanced budget to lawmakers in January.


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