Dear Sen. Whittemore, Rep. Martin, and members of the State and Local Government Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony in support of LD 1378, An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Issuance of Bonds and To Effectuate the Issuance of Bonds To Support Maine’s Natural Resource-based Economy.
For the second time in his tenure, the governor is withholding $11.5 million approved by voters to fund Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) projects across the state. Last year, Governor LePage said he would release this funding once the state repaid its debt to Maine’s hospitals. The Legislature passed a bill that repaid the debt, but the funds were not released.
No one person, not even the governor, should be able to stand in the way of decisions made by Maine voters – in this instance, more than 60% of Maine voters. This bill promotes good governance.
Because the governor has refused to issue the 2010 and 2012 LMF bonds, 30 projects totaling nearly 50,000 acres of conservation, recreation, forest, and agricultural land are at risk. These projects include more than 30 miles of streams in Somerset County that would conserve more wild brook trout habitat than in the rest of Northern New England; more than 10,000 acres of working forestland in the High Peaks Region; frontage on Knight’s Pond in Cumberland and North Yarmouth; and four working farms in Southern Maine. This bill would make good on previous commitments by the Administration to dozens of private landowners, who have negotiated in good faith and spent money on appraisals, boundary surveys, legal services, and other activities needed to finalize these projects.
LD 1378 will ensure that the voice of Maine people is heard in Augusta, and will help to protect places that make Maine such a great place to live, work, and play. We urge you to vote Ought to Pass on LD 1378.