At the Statehouse on March 10, Gov. John Baldacci released details of a $79 million investment package that he said would create 1,898 jobs and protect thousands more.

“To climb out of this recession, job creation and protecting our economy must be the highest priority,” said Baldacci. “That’s why I have proposed to balance the state budget without a tax increase. It’s why I support cutting the top income tax rate for working Mainers and small businesses. And it’s why I am proposing a job creation investment package that will put people back to work this year.”

According to Baldacci, 6,500 more people are unemployed in Maine now than were unemployed a year ago.

“My proposal will put millions of dollars back into the economy,” he said. “We can’t sit back and just wait for economic development to happen.”

The job bond, which focuses heavily on transportation, would include the following projects:

  • $28 million for highway reconstruction and paving, creating an estimated 750 jobs.
  • $3 million for a municipal highway challenge grant, which will be matched by local dollars and create an estimated 80 jobs.
  • $17 million for the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway in Aroostook County to preserve 240 miles of track. Without the investment, Baldacci said between 750 and 1,000 jobs could be negatively impacted.
  • $5 million for rail improvements in Lewiston-Auburn, which would allow for the purchase of the St. Lawrence & Atlantic line from Yarmouth to Auburn and make rail investments related to improved freight rail service and prepare for future passenger rail service. It is estimated the project would create 75 jobs.
  • $8 million for the Ocean Gateway Deep Water Pier in Portland, which would enhance the economic potential of Portland Harbor and improve global economic competitiveness and create an estimated 96 jobs.
  • $1 million for challenge grants from the Small Harbor Improvement Program, which is estimated to create 26 jobs.

In addition to the transportation package, the governor proposed $17 million in environmental and energy projects:

  • $3.2 million for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, which will be matched by $16 million and create an estimated 307 jobs.
  • $1.8 million for the Wastewater Treatment Facility Construction Grant, for projects targeted to Limestone Sewer and Water District, St. Agatha and Machias, which will create an estimated 28 jobs.
  • $2 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fun, which will be matched by $10 million and create an estimated 216 jobs or more.
  • $5 million to support component manufacturing for wind energy generation at the University of Maine.
  • $5 million to support the Maine Industrial Energy Efficiency Grant Program, which assists large companies with energy efficiency improvements and protects manufacturing jobs in the state. The investment will be matched by an estimated $25 million in private funding. Using the U.S. Department of Energy estimates, the program would create 320 jobs.

“This is a fiscally responsible program that will put people to work,” said Baldacci. “At this critical junction, we must be prepared to take action to make our state stronger and to promote economic growth.”

The Baldacci plan will be reviewed by the Appropriations Committee.