Testimony in Support of a Strategic and Balanced Bond Proposal

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine
In support of a strategic and balanced bond proposal
June 12, 2013

Senator Dill, Representative Rotundo and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs. My name is Nancy Smith. I live in Monmouth and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine, a statewide non-profit membership-based organization working to grow Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character and enhance our state's quality places.

As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine is particularly enthusiastic about well grounded, thoughtful proposals which grow the economy in a sustainable manner while at the same time preserving our state’s unique character and quality of place. We believe that strategic investments requiring general revenue bonding are appropriate and fit that description.

It is often said that government should be run like a business but I believe, given the unique role of state government, it is more appropriately run like a household. At home, as we budget for groceries, clothing and utilities, Mainers also borrow money for strategic investments, be it a college education, roof replacement or a newer vehicle. These are the things that make our families stronger now and in the future. The same holds true in this arena. It makes sense for Maine government to borrow funds for strategic investments – those that will make the state stronger now and in the future. There are thirty-two bond bills before you. This committee is in the best position to determine the total dollars most appropriately approved for borrowing at this time, but I encourage you to fully utilize the power of bonds to invest in our future.

To the specific proposals, we focus on those most closely aligned with our mission.

  • GrowSmart Maine supports substantial investments in transportation infrastructure as outlined in LDs 16, 942 and 1095. This must include vital improvements to existing roads and bridges as well as to transit beyond a focus on motor vehicles. Complete Streets perspective, which ensures our roads are usable by pedestrians and bicyclists and investments in public transit are important as well.
  • GrowSmart Maine supports substantial investments in economic development, specifically the proposals outlined in LDs 1105, 1163, and 1492. Continued support of Maine Technology Institute and the revitalization of our downtowns are some of the best investments we can make to increase income levels and job opportunities throughout Maine. LD 1223, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Support the Maine Technology Institute's Action Plan Implementation provides funds for research, development and commercialization as prioritized by the Office of Innovation's 2010 Science and Technology Action Plan for Maine. This Plan is powerful and continued implementation is essential to strengthening Maine’s economy.
  • GrowSmart Maine endorses LD 1043 An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue and To Assist in the Creation of Jobs through Regional Economic Development, as an economic driver with potential for great impact across the state. By broadening the parameters of the Regional Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund and recapitalizing this successful program housed at FAME, we will improve access to funds for small businesses across the state.
  • GrowSmart Maine supports LD 1455, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Ensure Clean Water and Safe Communities, which offers a truly innovative perspective on investments in both built and natural infrastructure to ensure a plentiful and safe water source for Mainers. The report recently produced and distributed outlines the need cost-effective benefits of ensuring key lands within strategic watersheds remain undeveloped so their value as filters and “sponges” can reduce the need for manmade solutions for our water systems.

GrowSmart Maine endorses the above proposals and is available to work with the committee in any way that might be helpful. We also thank you all for your tireless work to the benefit of the people of Maine.