Democrat lawmakers propose $130 million in borrowing in first week of new Maine Legislature

Rep. Michael Brennan (D – Portland) is the sponsor of three of the first four new borrowing bills introduced to the Maine Legislature. Photo courtesy Maine Legislature website.

AUGUSTA – In the first week of the new Maine Legislative session, Democratic lawmakers have proposed $130 million in new general fund borrowing with the largest of the state borrowing proposals going to address the impact of “sea level rise” in coastal communities.

Three of the first four borrowing bills introduced into the 129th Maine Legislature all feature the same primary sponsor, former Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, a Democrat representing Portland’s House District 36.

Two of Brennan’s three bills exclusively feature Democrat lawmakers as co-sponsors, while one of the bills has garnered one Republican co-sponsor.

In addition to wanting to push through approval for the state to borrow $50 million to address sea level rise in coastal communities, Brennan also wants to borrow $15 million to have the Maine State Housing Authority build housing for homeless Mainers and to borrow $25 million for the Department of Public Safety to assist municipalities to rehabilitate or build new fire stations.

The fourth borrowing bill, from Rep. Mick Devin (D – Newcastle) would borrow an additional $40 million to build a new fish hatchery facility for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, with some funds also going into upgrading infrastructure in existing hatcheries.

Rep. Devin is the sole sponsor of the fish hatchery proposal, with no co-sponsors signed on to his proposal.

Each of the proposals would require 2/3 approval from each chamber of the Maine Legislature and then be sent to voters for approval in a statewide referendum vote.

According to the state of Maine’s latest debt snapshot, Maine had $376 million in general obligation bond debt as of June 30, 2018. The proposals in the first week of the new Maine Legislature could push that number over $500 million, as much as a 35% increase.

In 2010, the final year of the Baldacci administration, Maine was carrying about $500 million in general obligation bond debt, with that number being reduced under Governor Paul LePage’s administration.

Click below to read each of the four new borrowing proposals:

Proposal to borrow $50 million to address “sea level rise” in coastal communities

Proposal to borrow $25 million to rehab or build new fire stations

Proposal to borrow $15 million to build housing for the homeless

Proposal to borrow $40 million to build a new fish hatchery

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