Republicans vote against job growth and future economic development
May 31, 2012
Augusta – The Republican-led Maine House today voted to uphold Governor Paul LePage’s veto of a $20 million investment bond for competitive research and development (R&D) grants. The R&D bond proposal would replenish the Maine Technology Asset Fund, which was created to field grant requests for innovation by leveraging public and private dollars.
During the floor debate on the veto, Democrats urged Republicans to support the bond proposal, which they said made smart and needed investments for creating higher wage jobs in the state.
“Maine needs jobs and we need jobs that pay good American wages and benefits,” said Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, the House Democratic leader. “The vote today holds those jobs hostage to Tea Party politics. This is nothing short of a vote against jobs and future economic development.”
Maine has lost more than 1,000 jobs since 2011 and was recently rated 50th for personal income growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Cain added, “Maine cannot afford to wait any longer to invest in future innovation.”
Maine is rated last in the country for R&D investment. Every $1 of state R&D investment returns $12 in economic benefits to the state, according to independent expert studies commissioned by the Maine Technology Institute. In addition, every $1 from R&D bonds leverages another $1.70 in matching funds from Maine companies and supporting organizations.<>br>
“R&D has been a stimulus and catalyst to local economic development in my town,” said Rep. Alan Casavant, D-Biddeford, who also serves as mayor.
Casavant said R&D projects have helped grow jobs at the University of New England and had a ripple effect on local businesses.
During the debate, Rep. Bruce MacDonald, D-Boothbay, cited job growth in his district at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, which created good-paying technology jobs, helps local fishermen, and created construction jobs from investments in R&D.
Democrats also disputed arguments that the state could not afford to bond, citing statistics from the Legislature’s non-partisan fiscal office.
According to the legislative fiscal office’s analysis, debt service payments from 2013 to 2015 will decline by nearly $30 million, lowering the state’s payments on debt and significantly increasing the capacity to borrow.
Jodi Quintero [Cain, Casavant, MacDonald] 287-1488, c. 841-6279