Testimony in support of LD 1205, 931

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine
in support of LD 1205, 931

June 5, 2015
Senator Hamper, 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. I regret that I cannot attend this hearing today.  Of the many worthy proposals before the committee today, we write in support of two with unique value.

GrowSmart Maine is a statewide non-partisan, non-profit, membership-based organization working to create lasting prosperity without sacrificing the way of life that defines Maine. This testimony is one component of our support for a balance of strategic investments in Maine’s infrastructure, natural resources and economic capacity is essential to making headway in achieving this objective.

LD 1205 will build 1,000 affordable senior homes. Currently, Maine only has enough resources to build 200-250 affordable homes of all types each year. That housing is spread across all populations – working families, those requiring supportive housing, and seniors. Without creating solutions at a more significant scale, we won’t make a real difference in the lives of seniors.  A portion of LD 1205’s proceeds will also be dedicated to home repair and weatherization, allowing more than 200 seniors to safely and affordably remain in their own homes. The initiative has broad, bipartisan support at the Legislature. Additionally, more than 150 organizations have endorsed the proposal, including the Maine Council on Aging, AARP, Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, Associated General Contractors of Maine, Associated Builders & Contractors of Maine, Maine Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, American Council of Engineering Companies of Maine.

LD 931 will provide research and development funding through the University of Maine System with a focus on commercialization.  This proposal is aligned with the seven targeted technology sectors identified as having a strategic economic connection to Maine’s existing assets through the Maine Science and Technology Action Plan and represents a collaboration between Maine’s university campuses and businesses.  Recently, the University of Maine System Trustees approved Strategic Outcomes for the UMaine System.  This includes specific targets for research and economic development.  The Trustees have agreed to invest System funds for the Research Reinvestment Initiative that will hold an annual internal competition to select R&D projects. Bond funds in LD 931 would be an important source to support critical facilities and equipment for these efforts.