State Sen. Cynthia Dill, the leading progressive in the race for the U.S. Senate, joined the majority in the Maine Senate today to override Gov. Paul LePage's veto of a $20 million state bond earmarked for research and development.
The bond, which failed in the House, would have allowed the state to borrow $20 million to award competitive Maine Technology Institute grants to businesses, nonprofits, universities and companies developing products in renewable energy, biotechnology, marine technology, forestry, agriculture and precision manufacturing.
"This is exactly the kind of bold, sensible public investment that would help leverage Maine's best resources and achieve a 21st-century economy," said Dill, who helped create the Three Ring Binder, a public-private partnership that's creating jobs right now by bringing high-speed Internet to rural Maine. "This is a terribly short-sighted rejection of a program that has proven to grow high-tech jobs in Maine.
"People are working in high-paying jobs at Falcon Performance Footwear in Lewiston, Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor and Biovation in Boothbay today because of grants such as the ones we just rejected," she said.
Dill voted with many Senate Republicans, many of whom recognized Maine's fastest-growing companies have won state grants, to override LePage's veto. "I'm happy to have worked across the aisle with sane Republicans who sensed a real job-creating opportunity," she said.
Dill invoked examples as recent as SpaceX and as traditional as rural electrification and the interstate highway system to stress public research as a catalyst to private sector job creation.
"The public invested in the highway program so businesses could move goods and expand, the power grid so no one would be left in the dark, broadband Internet so people in rural Maine can reach global markets, and a space program so private companies can now reach for the stars in a new era of commercial space travel. If the private sector won't or can't, then Maine needs to step up and meet the 21st-century economy head-on with job-creating investments in our future."
Dill leads the field of candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, according to two independent polls. A Critical Insights poll showed Dill leads the field in name recognition, while a Maine People's Resource Center poll showed Dill the favorite of 20.3 percent of those polled, with the next challenger at 16.7 percent.