By Rep. Troy Jackson, Rep. Ken Theriault and Sen. John Martin
March 30, 2007
There is one phrase on the lips and minds of almost everyone at the State House – the Brookings Report. You may have already read a little about it in the paper, but it’s a series of recommendations from the non-partisan Brookings Institute about how we can build a more prosperous future for Maine.
Governor Baldacci has already convened a special council just to review the research and development suggestions, and another task force will be announced shortly to examine the pieces of the plan about keeping Maine a great place to live by preserving our environment, revitalizing cities and towns, improving public access to lands and water, increasing tourism, and enriching our cultural opportunities and heritage. There’s even going to be a legislative committee devoted to reviewing the ideas as part of a long-range economic development plan.
Here in the County, there are still many reminders of the booming lumber baron economy of old, and we’ve done a good job at maintaining strong forest product and agricultural industries while diversifying our economy with opportunities like the DFAS center in Limestone. Of the rural counties in Maine, we are easily one of the strongest economically. We are also one of the areas with the most potential for sustainable growth.
One of the ways we can capitalize on our potential is through economic investments in bonds. This week at the capitol, Sen. Martin, who serves on the Appropriations Committee, is spending much of his time considering bond proposals to send to voters this June. Many of these proposals, particularly the package prepared by Governor Baldacci, have been heavily influenced by the Brookings Report.
Historically, bonds have been great for Maine’s economy. The most recent bond package approved two years ago by voters was an $85 million investment from the state – and the State Planning office projects that is will bringing in more than $236 million in matching funds, almost $400 million in sales, and create 4,640 jobs.
Many of the most critical bond proposal discussions will include Rep. Theriault, a member of the Transportation Committee, about building and repairing our roads and infrastructure to bring more jobs and services to the state, and ultimately, the St. John Valley. Rep. Jackson, a professional logger, will also be closely monitoring Governor Baldacci’s proposed investments in forestry, forest bioproducts, and agriculture research and development, accounting for nearly $6 million of the total R & D package.
The recommendations of the Brookings Institute, and the upcoming bond proposal debates, are timely and pertinent to the St. John Valley because GrowSmart Maine, an organization dedicated to moving the report’s recommendations forward, is holding an open meeting to hear your thoughts on the report and Maine’s economy in Frenchville next week. It will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3, at the Frenchville Rec Center.
We hope that many of you will be able to attend and weigh in on the ideas brought forward in this influential report. As always, if we can ever provide more information on any issue at the State House, or be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us: John can be reached at 1-800-423-6900, and Ken and Troy can be reached at 1-800-423-2900. We look forward to hearing from you!
Senator John L. Martin: (207) 287-1515
Representative Troy Jackson: (207) 287-1430
Representative Ken Theriault: (207) 287-1430
Casey Johnson Bromberg, Legislative Aide: (207) 287-1438
Nina Fisher, Legislative Aide (Martin): (207) 287-1512