At its September meeting, United Way of Greater Portland’s (UWGP) Board of Directors voted to endorse the passage of Maine Referenda Questions 4 & 5 on this November’s ballot. Both bond questions directly align with the UWGP’s public policy agenda and support the work of Thrive2027 Goal 2: Empower our neighbors to thrive – not just survive.
UWGP believes that public investment in higher education helps families secure financial stability and ultimately to thrive.
Question 4, University of Maine System Bond Issue
Question 4 on the ballot reads:
Do you favor a $49,000,000 bond issue to be matched by at least $49,000,000 in private and public funds to modernize and improve the facilities and infrastructure of Maine’s public universities in order to expand workforce development capacity and to attract and retain students to strengthen Maine’s economy and future workforce?
Question 4 authorizes $49 million in general obligation bonds for the construction and remodeling of existing and new facilities within the University of Maine System that are intended to expand the system’s workforce development capacities and attract and retain students. To receive funds from the bond revenue projects would need to be matched by other public or private funds. The 16-member University of Maine System Board of Trustees would be responsible for approving what projects are eligible for bond revenue. The University systems plans to do the following with the new funds:
- Produce more rural nurses by bringing four-year nursing education to Central and Southern Aroostook County through a UMFK-led partnership with UMPI.
- Grow the state’s marine economy and sustain Washington County’s future by modernizing science classrooms in Machias to attract more students to Maine’s coastal campus.
- Double engineering enrollment and produce more in-demand computer programmers and cybersecurity professionals by expanding 21st century classrooms and labs in southern Maine.
- Provide hands-on training for future early childhood teachers and access for local families to affordable childcare through the construction of a new child care and education center at UMF.
- Connect students in all majors to local internships and jobs that will keep them in Maine by building a new Career & Student Success Center at USM’s growing Portland campus.
- Provide first generation and nontraditional students including Veterans seamless support so they can realize more stable, independent and fulfilling futures by creating Enrollment Welcome Centers at UMA’s Augusta and Bangor campuses.
- Expand enrollment of state’s largest nursing school by doubling size of USM nursing simulator.
- Renovate UMF’s Student and Community Center, the most utilized public event space in Western Maine and improve residence halls.
- Improve recruitment, student success and strengthen campus and community ties by constructing a new Welcome Center at UMFK for all student and public-facing functions.
Question 5, Community Colleges Bond Issue
Question 5 on the ballot reads:
Do you favor a $15,000,000 bond issue to improve educational programs by upgrading facilities at all 7 of Maine’s community colleges in order to provide Maine people with access to high-skill, low-cost technical and career education?
Question 5 authorizes $15 million in general obligation bonds for the renovation and expansion of instructional laboratories, information technology infrastructure, and heating and ventilating systems at Maine’s seven community colleges. Revenue from the bonds would be distributed to the colleges as follows:
- Southern Maine Community College – $4,275,100 – Facility repairs, energy efficiencies, space for student support and remediation, information technology system, and instructional and library services
- Central Maine Community College – $2,503,755 – Instructional laboratories, information technology infrastructure, and heating and ventilating systems
- Eastern Maine Community College – $2,233,082 – Information technology systems, natural gas heating systems, and other campus-wide energy efficiencies
- Kennebec Valley Community College – $2,190,731 – Equipment for new program in millwrighting and industrial mechanics, information technology infrastructure, instructional and library technologies, and window insulation
- York County Community College – $1,746,360 – Information technology system and development of the Industrial Trades Center
- Northern Maine Community College – $1,165,119 – Diesel hydraulics program laboratory, information technology infrastructure, heating and ventilation systems, energy efficiencies, and classroom renovations
- Washington County Community College – $885,853 – Instructional laboratories, information technology systems, and instructional technologies
Additional information on both bond questions and voter registration can be found on the Maine Secretary of State website. Election Day is November 6, 2018.