One of the great failures of “politics as usual” at both the state and national level has been our inability to maintain our existing infrastructure while investing in new, competitive infrastructure like high-speed broadband and smart grid technology. Or, paraphrasing something Senator Angus King has said, “While the Greatest Generation won World War II and built the Interstate Highway System, we have somehow proven ourselves unable to even fix the potholes.”
While the American Society of Civil Engineers has given Maine a "C-" on its 2016 report card and noted that literally billions of dollars are needed to shore up drinking water, wastewater, roads and bridges, the current administration has done very little to take advantage of what have been historically low interest rates to propose any kind of bold vision for building Maine’s competitive infrastructure. For anyone with any business sense, this is just an awful missed opportunity for our state and our people. In fact, according to the most recent U.S. Census data, Maine ranks 46th in the country in terms of per capita public investment in infrastructure.
This is an essential area where I will bring new leadership, innovation and change to state government. A top priority for economic growth and job creation will be a plan to make and attract major investments to give Maine region-leading infrastructure, including high-speed broadband in every part of Maine that is needed to compete in today’s global economy.
A modern, innovative view of “infrastructure” also takes Maine’s natural resources into account. “Natural infrastructure” means recognizing:
- a healthy, resilient Gulf of Maine is essential to our entire fishing, coastal and rural economies,
- healthy, resilient Maine forests protect the deer, moose, fish and other game populations essential to our sporting and recreation economy and our clean water and clean air quality,
- healthy, resilient lakes, ponds, streams and rivers support our recreation and sporting economy and allow sea-run fish populations critical to our economy to grow and thrive,
- healthy and adequate watershed areas help prevent damage from flooding and reduce the need for “built” infrastructure like water filtration plants, which cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.