91 percent Democrats, 76 percent Independents, 54 percent Republicans from every region of the state support Legislation to Release Voter-Approved Bonds Even When They Hear Other Arguments
By Ramona du Houx
Governor Paul LePage has held funds to protect and preserve land in Maine for all Mainers hostage. The program he is strangling is called Land for Maine's Future, LMF. The program expanded areas in Baxter Park, and across the state under the Baldacci administration. But nothing has been done to preserve lands with the LePage administration. In fact, the opposite has happened with more land being opened to loggers. LePage has also tried to stop the board of LMF from functioning. The people of Maine love their state, and the evidence is in with a new poll which shows strong support for LMF.
“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,” shared Maine Coast Heritage Trust President Tim Glidden. “It is time policymakers empower this popular land conservation program, so that it can once again fulfill the wishes of Maine voters.”
Headed into the next legislative session, new data from the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates finds that Maine Democrats, Independents and Republicans from every part of the state overwhelmingly support the release of all voter-approved Land for Maine’s Future funds even when they hear a simulation of the debate that has been occurring on the issue.
“We have heard months of debate and suggestions that LMF only benefits the wealthy or that voter-approved 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.”
It's important to note out door sports enthusiasts support LMF.
“Understanding how valuable LMF investments are to trengthening our economy, especially in rural areas, I am not at all surprised by these numbers” said 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.”
- 74 percent - Overall support for releasing LMF funds: Given a brief, neutral explanation of the two perspectives on LMF funding (see attached memo), 74 percent of Maine people say the Governor should release voter-approved bond funds.
- Only 16 percent side with the idea that the Governor should not release LMF funds. Those supporting the release of LMF funds include:
- 91 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents and 54 percent of Republicans.
- More than 70 percent of Mainers in every region of the state: coastal Maine (75 percent), Northeast (76 percent), South (76 percent) and Central (72 percent)
By a margin of 79 percent to 16 percent Maine voters reject withholding LMF bonds until the Legislature approves an unrelated law to use revenue from timber harvests on state lands to fund a separate government program to help low-income Maine residents upgrade their heating systems. Seventy-nine percent chose, instead, to support the view that “once the people of Maine have spoken at the ballot box, no one individual – even the Governor – ought to have the right to veto that decision.”
By a margin of 73 percent to 12 percent of Maine voters believe that LMF funds benefit all Mainers and visitors versus only benefiting “wealthy landowners.”
“We are not surprised to see such strong support for LMF regardless of political affiliation or region in Maine,” said Wolfe Tone of The Trust for Public Land. “Voters have overwhelmingly approved these bonds at the ballot box six times. With more than 30 projects in limbo across the state, Mainers understand how withholding LMF funds is hurting their own local economy. It is time to release LMF funding and allow these investments to move forward.”