Republicans block initiative to fund Land for Maine’s Future

Posted: September 05, 2019 | Appropriations and Financial Affairs, Environment and Natural Resources, Senator Breen, Senator Breen

AUGUSTA —Sen. Breen, D-Falmouth, spoke on the Senate floor today to advocate for a bond proposal to fund the Land for Maine’s Future program. The bill failed passage in the Senate as Republicans voted as a bloc against sending the question to voters.

“As a member of the bipartisan Land Conservation Task Force and as Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, I know that supporting LMF is a wise investment. State money—typically 10 to 20 percent of any conservation project—leverages funding from federal programs, community partnerships, philanthropic organizations, land trusts and other sources,” said Sen. Breen. “Today’s vote, however, was not on whether or not to fund LMF, but on whether or not to let Mainers have a say on the issue at the ballot box. I am deeply disappointed that Republicans denied sending this question out to the voters, but I will be back next year to work hard to secure badly needed funding for this popular and effective program.”

The bill before the Legislature — LD 1851, “An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Land Conservation, Water Access, Outdoor Recreation, Wildlife and Fish Habitats and Farmland and Working Waterfront Preservation” — would have sent the question of whether to issue a $20 million bond for Land for Maine’s Future to the voters. Sen. Breen introduced her own bond bill in the Legislature’s first session to send out a $95 million initiative to the voters, with $75 million going to LMF and $20 million going to the Bureau of Parks and Lands. That bill garnered 104 cosponsors and was carried over into the second session.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry website,

Over the past 30 years, the Land for Maine’s Future Program has assisted in the protection of 54 water access sites, 40 farms totaling more than 9,700 acres, 24 commercial working waterfront properties, more than 1,200 miles of shore lands, 58 miles of former railroad corridors for recreational trails and over 570,000 acres of conservation and recreation lands including 332,000 acres of working lands with permanent conservation easements.

The Legislature did approve a $125 million transportation bond to pay for pressing repairs, upgrades and maintenance for highways, bridges, culverts and working waterfronts. This initiative will appear before all Maine voters on the ballot in November.