Question 2: Do you favor an $11,300,000 bond issue to provide funds for capital to build a diagnostic facility for the University of Maine System; for capital improvements and equipment, including machine tool technology, for the Maine Community College System; and for capital improvements and equipment at the Maine Maritime Academy?

Voting yes on Question 2 will allow the University of Maine System to build a diagnostic facility that is biosecure, permit the Maine Community College System to grow programs that are in demand by both students and regional employers and help Maine Maritime Academy build a laboratory to accommodate expanding enrollment.

The majority of the bond funds — $7.8 million — would go to the University of Maine System, so it could combine its two animal, plant and insect specimen diagnostic facilities into one laboratory that has quarantine capability. The laboratory would continue to test for health threats such as avian influenza, Lyme disease and salmonella. The facility is necessary in order to continue protecting Maine people, animals and crops.

The bond would provide $3 million for Maine’s community colleges. York County Community College would purchase the equipment necessary to launch its new machine tool technology program, which would start in 2013. The program is needed to train more high-skilled workers, as requested by employers like Pratt and Whitney and other machine shops.

Central Maine Community College in Auburn, Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor, Washington County Community College in Calais and Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle would expand programs and upgrade buildings. Funding would help Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield and Hinckley buy equipment for nursing, electronics, machining and other programs. Southern Maine Community College in South Portland and Brunswick would complete a classroom building at the new Midcoast Campus in Brunswick.

The remaining $500,000 would be used by Maine Maritime Academy to help finance construction of a new classroom and laboratory facility to enhance the applied science program. Enrollment has grown from 650 to 950 full-time students over the last 15 years, but there has been little expansion of facilities.

Maine’s colleges must be better equipped to train Maine’s workforce and support the larger economy. The investment now will help Maine students become more competitive job seekers in the future.