The gist

Passing this question would allow the state to borrow $15 million, matched by $30 million in other funds, for high-speed internet infrastructure improvements in areas where infrastructure is lacking.1

Ballot question

“Do you favor a $15,000,000 bond issue to invest in high-speed internet infrastructure for unserved and underserved areas, to be used to match up to $30,000,000 in federal, private, local or other funds?”1

Yes means No means
I am in favor of borrowing $15 million to improve high-speed internet infrastructure. I don't want Maine to borrow $15 million to improve high-speed internet infrastructure.

Tell me more

Passing this question would allow the State of Maine to borrow $15 million for the ConnectME Authority, a public organization responsible for promoting high-speed internet usage in unserved and underserved areas of Maine.2

This is a bond issue – if voters approve the bond, it means that the State of Maine is allowed to borrow money for the project described in the ballot question and has to pay it back over 10 years.3 Learn more about how bonds work.

Follow the money

Principal: $15,000,000 Interest: $4,125,000 (assumes 5.0% over 10 years) Total cost: $19,125,000 4

The money will be used to:

  • Improve high-speed internet access in unserved and underserved areas of Maine. 2

The money will be coming from:

  • $15 million bond issued by the state and paid back through the budget and taxes over 10 years.2
  • Up to $30 million in federal, private, local, or other matching funds.1

Pros

The primary arguments for this referendum are:

  • About 50% of the state is considered unserved or underserved for high-speed internet access. 3
  • There’s an increased need for high-speed internet with schools moving online and people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • High-speed internet can improve services such as healthcare and education. 3
  • New residents and businesses may be attracted to Maine if the state has high-speed internet access, especially as businesses and employees look for lower cost locations as more businesses move to remote working models. 3
  • Low population density makes it difficult to the private sector to provide this infrastructure. 3
  • Issuing the bond opens up matching funds.
  • Interest rates are currently low, making it a good time to invest.

Cons

The primary arguments against this referendum are:

  • Maine already has $1.43 billion in outstanding bond debt that this will add to and it could lead to increased taxes.2
  • Residents of more populated may not think it’s worth paying for infrastructure in less populated rural areas.

Who cares

Nobody has registered support or opposition to this bond.

Further reading

References

  1. Maine State Legislature. An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Infrastructure To Improve Transportation and Internet Connections. Accessed June 3, 2020.  2 3

  2. Ballotpedia State Desk. Maine Question 1, High-Speed Internet Infrastructure Bond Issue (July 2020). Ballotpedia. Accessed June 3, 2020.  2 3 4

  3. ConnectMaine. ConnectMaine State of Maine Broadband Action Plan. Accessed June 3, 2020.  2 3 4 5

  4. Treasurer of State. Treasury Statement. Accessed June 10, 2020.