Independent Maine state legislator introduces bill on Earth Day to fund commuter rail from casino revenue

Ben Chipman represents Portland in the Maine legislature’s lower house. He has been a Green Party activist for years and was elected as an independent. On his facebook, he said, “On Earth Day I am proud to release a bill to fund commuter rail service! Whatever your position is on the casino, if it is going to be built I think it is important that the revenue go towards worthy projects that reduce our carbon footprint.”

From the Bangor Daily News:

LD 1344 would amend the casino bill to allocate money currently earmarked for harness racing purses and the Sire Stakes Fund, 2 percent of slot machine revenue, to the State Transit, Aviation and Rail Transportation Fund. If the popular slots in NJ are anything to go by, that 2 percent will generate a large amount of funding.

The estimated funding would total about $2 million a year.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Benjamin Chipman, U-Portland, and co-sponsored by Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, and Rep. Jarrod Crockett, R-Bethel…

Chipman said the Biddeford casino is likely to pass, and the harness racing funds will probably lose that funding anyway.

He said rail service would be a win-win. On one hand, “it would relieve some of the traffic congestion that people in that area are worried about.” At the same time, passenger rail would make the casino “more feasible” by adding another way for potential casino patrons to get to Oxford.

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