2015-10-22 / Front Page

Coalition: Electorate wants LePage to release Land for Maine’s Future bonds

The Times Record

TOPSHAM

According to a news release from the Land for Maine’s Future Coalition, data from the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates finds that Maine Democrats, Independents and Republicans overwhelmingly support the release of all $11 million of voter-approved Land for Maine’s Future funds.

According to the release, 74 percent of Maine people say Gov. Paul LePage should release voter-approved bond funds, while only 16 percent said the funds should not be released.

Release of the funds are supported by 91 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents and 54 percent of Republicans.

By 73 to 12 percent, Mainers believe that LMF funds benefit all Mainers and visitors, rejecting LePage’s ascertation that the funds primarily benefit wealthy land owners, according to the coalition.

“This poll is the latest indication that Maine people, across the state and from all walks of life, are benefitting from and valuing the economic importance of Land for Maine’s Future investments,” said Maine Coast Heritage Trust President Tim Glidden in a statement. “It is time policymakers empower this popular land conservation program, so that it can once again fulfill the wishes of Maine voters.”

“Understanding how valuable LMF investments are to strengthening our economy, especially in rural areas, I am not at all surprised by these numbers” added Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Executive Director David Trahan. “Sportsmen and women and outdoor groups know that LMF benefits all Mainers, not the rich. We again ask the governor and legislators to listen and release LMF funds now.”

Earlier this year in Brunswick, LePage said his unwillingness to release the funds was a way to “leverage” Legislators into expanding timber harvesting in Maine as a way to pay for more heating assistance.

Later, LePage had stated that the “problem” with LMF program is that “wealthy people come into the state and say, ‘we think we ought to protect all this land.’”

“We have heard months of debate and suggestions that LMF only benefits the wealthy or that voterapproved bond funds can be used as political leverage,” said Tom Abello, Senior Policy Advisor at The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “What this poll tells us is that voters know better and are not buying any of it. We hope Legislators are listening.”

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