Testimony on LD 1344, “An Act to Fund Commuter and Passenger Rail Transportation In Maine”

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine Neither For Nor Against LD 1344,

“An Act to Fund Commuter and Passenger Rail Transportation In Maine”

May 4, 2011


Senator Farnham, Representative Beaulieu and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal 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 for LD 1344.


As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine is particularly enthusiastic about well grounded, thoughtful and creative proposals which grow the economy in a sustainable manner while at the same time protecting our state’s unique character. We believe that promoting the use of commuter and passenger rail transportation in Maine directly supports these goals and objectives. Further, the continued development of passenger and commuter rail service within Maine also promotes smart growth development strategies which maximize the use of existing transportation hubs within historic municipal centers while at the same time helping to preserve much of Maine’s rural qualities.


While GrowSmart Maine supports the proposal in LD 1344 which provides revenue from the operation of slot machines at the casino in Oxford County to the State Transit, Aviation and Rail Transportation Fund, we also recognize the importance of the current distribution of funds to the harness racing industry. We urge the committee to reexamine the total funding cascade with the purpose of providing both the development of passenger and commuter rail service to Oxford County and preserving much needed funding for the harness racing industry in the State of Maine. The accomplishment of both objectives will help to preserve Oxford County’s rural character and quality of life.


Thank you for the opportunity to present these remarks. Please contact me with any questions regarding GrowSmart Maine’s views regarding LD 1344.