Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, announced today that the full committee advanced the fiscal year (FY) 2020 energy and water funding bill by a vote of 31-0. The legislation includes provisions Senator Collins pushed for to support the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC). The legislation now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.
Following Senator Collins’ advocacy, the bill provides $25 million for NBRC, $5 million more than last year. This funding includes $4 million for initiatives that seek to address the decline in forest-economies through the region and $500,000 for the State Capacity Grant Program, which was included in legislation led by Senator Collins that was incorporated in the 2018 Farm Bill.
“The Northern Border Regional Commission serves as a critical resource for northern and central Maine, making investments to help increase job growth and boost local economies,” said Senator Collins. “As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I fought to include this provision, which will support some of the most economically disadvantaged areas of Maine and neighboring states.”
NBRC provides grants for projects throughout northern and central Maine, as well as northern New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont, spurring economic and community development. In 2019, NBRC has awarded more than $6 million to projects in Maine.
The NBRC was a key partner in the multiagency Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT) – originally requested in March 2016 by Senators Collins and Angus King (I-ME) – supporting economic development strategies and efforts that help pave the way for job growth in a region experiencing economic distress. The January 2017 EDAT assessment highlighted the importance of the NBRC and its potential to leverage federal resources to support the viability of impacted mill communities and help grow Maine’s rural economy.
Since its creation in 2008, Senators Collins has advocated for the NBRC and introduced a bill to reauthorize it in March 2018 with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).