Land for Maine’s Future Needs Your Help
LMF Needs Your Help
Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) is the state conservation bond program that brought you Dodge Point. It has been critical for many other DRA public access land conservation purchases as well, along with so many other good projects around the state. With cross-aisle support and usual passage in every county when on the ballot, this is a program Mainers of all stripes have embraced.
But the program, including one of our projects – Crow Island – is threatened. The Governor continues to hold LMF funds hostage and ignore the will of the voters. For the second time in three years he is using voter-approved bonds as political leverage in the legislature. This time, his goal is to secure passage of an unrelated bill that would increase timber harvesting on public lands and divert funds from the Bureau of Parks and Lands. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec County), the legislature has an opportunity to deliver a clear message to the Governor that his actions are inappropriate.
In early May, Senator Katz introduced LD 1378, a bill that would prevent the Governor from withholding voter-approved bonds for political reasons. LD 1378 would also require the State Treasurer to borrow all outstanding LMF bonds, the $6.47 million approved in 2010 and $5 million in 2012. The bill is co-sponsored and supported by a number of legislators from both parties and from both chambers. Even legislators who have not traditionally supported LMF are seeing the bill for what it is, a commonsense good government proposal that does nothing more than require the Governor to follow the will of Maine people.
Call to Action
Despite the bill’s growing bipartisan support, its future success remains in doubt. Some legislative leaders would like this bill to go away and even if it passes we will face the challenge of overriding the likely veto. With a month left in the legislative session, time is of the essence. Please call your legislators today. Be sure your State Senators and Representatives understand the importance of this bill to their constituents. Thank them if they are supportive and ask them to communicate their support to their respective legislative leaders.
Find your local representative by town here:
Press: Portland Press Herald (5/11/15)
Bill Title: “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”
Bill Sponsor: Senator Katz (R-Kennebec)
Bill Co-Sponsors: Senator Collins (R-York), Senator Gerzofsky (D-Cumberland), Senator Langley (R-Hancock), Senator Saviello (R-Franklin), Senator Whittemore (R-Somerset), Representative Martin (D-Eagle Lake), Representatives Black (R-Wilton), Representative Maker (R-Calais), and Representative Marean (R-Hollis)
Committee: State and Local Government
1. Good Government Proposal
Common sense provisions to ensure Governor can only hold up voter-approved bonds for legitimate purposes: manage debt service, protect credit rating, secure advantageous interest rates, project no longer pending, or other funding available.
Provisions of LD 1378 are how Governors have traditionally administered voter approved bonds in Maine’s 195-year history.
Politics has a role in the bonding process: when the legislature discusses whether or not to send question to voters and before voters cast their ballots on Election Day. Once voters have ratified bonds, politics should end and governing begin.
2. Requires Governor to Follow through on Promises Made
Governor stated in 2013 that LMF bonds approved by voters in 2010 and 2012 would be spent following the payment of the State’s hospital debts in June of that year.
In July 2014, the Administration committed to investing more than $9 million in bond funds approved by Maine voters in 2010 and 2012.
The Administration has made specific commitments to dozens of private landowners, who have conducted due diligence, spent money, and negotiated in good faith.
Holding up this funding is costing the State money, could lead to projects failing, and has put the state’s reputation at risk. This is not consistent with running Maine like a business.
3. LMF Investments Strengthen Maine’s Economy and our Local Communities. LMF has protected:
Over 560,000 acres of conservation and recreation lands. This includes 315,000 acres of working forestlands reflecting LMF’s efforts to conserve the working landscape and keep lands in private ownership with permanent land conservation agreements. These lands serve a variety of activities including: hunting, hiking, fishing, camping, snowmobiling, picnicking, and birdwatching.
52 water access sites – guaranteeing access for canoeing, fishing and boating.
37 farms of more than 8,900 acres – supporting family farmers producing dairy, vegetables, meat and flowers.
24 commercial working waterfront properties where lobsterman and other fisherman have guaranteed access to the water – ensuring their economic future.
158 miles of former railroad corridors have been protected for multi-use recreational trails that are part of a statewide network generating millions of dollars to local economies.
Add YOUR local example focused on how people in the community are benefiting from past LMF projects/will benefit from pending LMF projects.
4. Governor’s Timber Harvesting Proposal and LMF are Separate Issues
Providing heat assistance to low income Mainers is a worthy policy objective, but there are others options available to meet this need.
There is a backlog of investments the State could be making to enhance accessibility and improve the quality of our public lands. These investments would create jobs in the short term and strengthen the State’s tourism industry in the long term. Yet, the Governor’s proposal would divert money from a fund designed to manage the State’s public lands.
This is the second time the Governor has used the LMF bond funds approved by Maine voters in 2010 and 2012 to seek support for an unrelated bill in the legislature. How many times is he going to use these funds for political leverage? It is time for the Governor to keep his word, release the LMF funds, and fulfill the wishes of Maine voters.