BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Legislature goes back to work Thuesday, to vote on vetoes from Governor LePage.
The Governor vetoed four bills, including a proposed $20 million bond issue to fund new research and development projects.
Maine voters have passed two previous bonds for R&D in 2007 and 2010, for a total of nearly $53 million. That money has been distributed by the Maine Technology Institute, a non-profit agency whose operating budget come from the state's General Fund.
The bond money created what's called the Maine Technology Assets Fund.
Grants from the fund have gone to private company projects such as Ocean Renewable Power (ORPC), which is building the new tidal power generator in Eastport. MTAF grants have also gone to a variety of projects at the University of Maine and several private laboratories in the state.
Gov. LePage said he vetoed the bond because too much of the earlier bond money went to government and non-profits instead of private business. But MTI President Betsy Biemann says the law that created the R&D funding program allows both public and private entities to receive grants, and decisions are made as a result of a competitive process with independent judges. She says University grants must show collaboration with the private sector and show the prospect for creating new jobs as a result of the work.
John Ferland of ORPC says his company has worked with the University to develop their generator and turbine system, and says he and other R&D businesses don't object to the University and the private labs receiving funding.
Both MTI and Ocean Renewable Power say the previous grants have created new jobs. MTI cites a June, 2011 report that the R&D grants have helped to create 289 new jobs, and preserve 303 others. MTI officials say some of the projects are just starting to bear fruit and will be providing more jobs in the future.
Some legislators say they're opposed to any new borrowing for bonds this year, because they believe the state owes too much money already and can't afford to borrow more. That argument is expected to be heard in the Legislature oin Thursday, when the Legislature meets to vote on the vetoes. Two weeks ago, lawmakers passed the R&D bond by a two-thirds majority. It will need that same margin to override the veto.