Editorial by state senator Cathy Breen, from Falmouth.
The important job of doing the people’s work in Augusta is so much bigger than one person. Voters send us to the State House to get results, and we need to work together to make our state prosperous and healthy.
For nearly three decades, Land for Maine’s Future has fulfilled its mission of protecting Maine’s natural heritage for future generations. Since voters created the program in 1987, Land for Maine’s Future, or LMF, has protected more than half a million acres at dozens of sites across our state.
It’s conserved working forests, family farms, commercial waterfronts and recreation areas — ensuring that Maine will forever be known for the scenic beauty, natural resources and quality of life that make our state a wonderful place to live, work and play.
Now this important organization’s future is in doubt, all in the name of politics.
Gov. LePage is punishing Land for Maine’s Future in an effort to force lawmakers to let him sell more timber from public lands – a proposal that’s already been rejected along bipartisan lines in the Legislature.
The governor has now frozen LMF’s accounts, preventing it from continuing its work. He’s refused to release more than $11 million worth of bonds that have been promised to more than 30 communities all over Maine. What’s worse, all of the money the governor is holding hostage has already been approved by voters.
This is the same game the governor played in 2013. That year, he promised to release voter-approved bonds after he and the Legislature came to an agreement to pay down debt owed to the state’s hospitals. But he never did.
Now, having reneged on that deal, the governor has lost his credibility with the Legislature. Why should we believe he will honor his agreements?
The LMF fiasco is just the latest example of the governor using his power to throw a wrench in the gears of good government. But the problem is bigger than what’s happening with Gov. LePage and Land for Maine’s Future.
The people’s work requires goodwill and collaboration by everyone in Augusta. The solitary path of scorched-earth politics can be appealing to some, but these tactics poison the well of effective government.
At best, these tactics create unnecessary distractions. At worst, they foster an environment of division and suspicion, jeopardizing our ability to come together to pass responsible budgets, ensure the best education for our children and grow our economy.
These tactics also leave innocent victims in their wake, as we’ve seen with this LMF ordeal, which has left many good conservation projects in the lurch, along with the private donors who have supported them.
We can achieve so much more when we work together.
That doesn’t mean everyone in Augusta has to agree on everything. That would be a naive expectation. And besides, healthy debate is crucial to making government the best it can be. But respect, open communication and integrity should be the foundation of good government.
For the good of our state, all of us – the governor and lawmakers too – must forgo the destructive and cynical politics that hold us back. There’s simply too much work to be done.