Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine in favor of LR 1046: "An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds, and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015”, Sec. A-2:MUNICIPAL PLANNING ASSISTANCE Z161
March 26, 2013
Senator Hill, Representative Rotundo and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs. My name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine. As many of you know from our previous interactions with the committee, GrowSmart Maine is a statewide non-profit membership-based organization working to grow Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character, and enhance our state's quality places. I regret that previously scheduled commitments prevent me or other GrowSmart Maine representatives from presenting this testimony at today’s Public Hearing.
As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine is particularly enthusiastic about well grounded, thoughtful and creative proposals which seek to grow the economy in a sustainable manner while at the same time preserving our state’s unique character and quality of place. It is within this context that I wish to speak in support of one program at the Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
You will remember that the Municipal Planning Assistance Program, housed within the ACF Commissioner’s Office, was until last year located at former State Planning Office. I am encouraged to see the continued funding at the same level as the last budget. However, I do believe it is important to note that general revenue funds have been essentially eliminated for this program, leaving them at a significant disadvantage for supporting inland communities and without capacity for statewide land use policy efforts. There is much more that could be done if resources were available. Note a recent news article concerning pending legislation, LD 825, in which DEP Commissioner Aho suggests the work to be done would be better suited to the Municipal Planning Assistance Program than to DEP. (http://www.pressherald.com/news/is-maine-ready-for-climate-changes__2013-03-17.html) Within the 2010 climate change report prepared by the DEP, referenced in this article, is a blueprint for action. This is a good fit for the MPAP, but will require resources to coordinate statewide efforts.
Thank you for the opportunity to present these remarks. Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding GrowSmart Maine’s remarks on this issue.