AUGUSTA—The Maine Senate voted to override Governor Paul LePage’s veto of the Research and Development (R&D) bond for $20 million to continue funding the Maine Technology Asset Fund, which competitively awards grants for research and development. The veto was overturned by a vote of 29 – 6.
“We cannot turn away from an opportunity to encourage prosperity and innovation for our state. R&D is a key component to a jobs creation plan not just for today but for our future,” said Senator Seth Goodall (D-Richmond) who also serves on the Maine Economic Growth Council. “We know that investment in R&D will yield innovation, new industries for our communities and make Maine a leader in the industries of tomorrow. We cannot miss this opportunity to move our economy forward and put people to work.”
The Maine Technology Asset Fund was created to field grant requests for innovation leveraging public and private dollars. Winning applications are those that join public, private and educational endeavors. Every $1 of state R&D investment returns $12 in economic benefits to the State, according to independent expert studies commissioned by the Maine Technology Institute. In addition, every $1 from R&D bonds leverages another $1.70 in matching funds from Maine companies and supporting organizations.
During the floor debate, Senator Margaret Craven (D-Lewiston) gave an example of an R&D fund recipient, Falcon Performance Footwear, noting, “It is because of the investment in research and development that Falcon makes the best boots in the world—the best boots to protect our our firefighters and miners and other industrial professionals. I am proud to say that because of Falcon’s commitment to innovation and quality, they are on the map as the best boot makers in the world”
Jackson Labs has also been a regular beneficiary of state investment, and it has developed into one of the world’s premier biomedical research facilities. Targeted investments in boat building and marine research and development have established the state as an international leader in those industries as well.
Maine has lost more than 1,000 jobs since 2011 and was recently rated 50th for personal income growth according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The veto now faces consideration in the House.