Although I’m a Democrat, I want to thank Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, for his leadership in introducing L.D. 1378, a bipartisan bill requiring Gov. LePage to release millions of dollars of voter-approved bond money, without delay, for the Land for Maine’s Future program.

Maine voters have overwhelmingly passed five bonds for Land for Maine’s Future. In 2010 and 2012, citizens affirmed the value Mainers attach to the preservation of public land, one that guarantees citizen access to recreational use of the rivers, forests and farmland for themselves and their children in perpetuity.

In March, LePage announced he intended to withhold $11.5 million of taxpayer-approved LMF funds until the Legislature approved expanded state tree harvesting on public lands. He has said he woud select which harvesting projects would be chosen.

State statute authorizes Land for Maine’s Future citizens board members to fund conservation projects following rigorous guidelines. LePage would use funds gained from the tree harvesting for unrelated purposes.

In 2014, LePage said that he would release LMF funds if the state first repaid its debt to Maine hospitals. That bill has been paid, but the funds were not released.

Our governor is, for a second time, holding hostage millions of dollars of taxpayer funds against the will of the people. Please contact your state legislators regarding your support of the Roger Katz bill, L.D. 1378.

Margaret Leitch Copeland