The election on June 9, 2020, will feature two statewide bond measures in Maine. Legislators passed the bond measures on March 17, and Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed the legislation on March 18. A two-thirds vote was needed in each legislative chamber.
The first bond measure would authorize $105 million in bonds for transportation infrastructure projects, including $90 million for highways, bridges, and MaineDOT’s Municipal Partnership Initiative (MPI) and $15 million for multimodal facilities and equipment related to transit, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, ports, harbors, marine transportation, and active transportation projects. The bond revenue could act as matching funds for an estimated $275 million in federal and other funding.
The second bond measure would authorize $15 million in bonds for the ConnectME Authority to provide funding for high-speed internet infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas. As of March 2020, the ConnectME Authority defined unserved areas as places where broadband service is not offered and underserved areas as places where less than 20 percent of households have access to broadband service. The ConnectME Authority is a state organization that was developed to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure in Maine.
Voters of Maine cast ballots on 39 bond issues, totaling $1.43 billion ($1,427,925,000) in value, from January 1, 2007, through January 1, 2020. Voters approved 38 of 39 bond issues (97.4 percent) during this time. Ten of 39 bonds were related to transportation infrastructure. None were related to internet infrastructure. The last bond measure to be rejected was Question 2 (2012), which would have authorized $11 million in bonds to expand the state’s community college system.
With the Maine State Legislature adjourning on March 17, which was about a month earlier than scheduled, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the two bond measures are likely the only ballot measures that will appear on the June ballot. The latest that a bill could be signed to refer a measure to the June ballot is April 10. If the legislature reconvenes for a special session during the summer months, it could refer additional measures to the November ballot.