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November 7, 2018

Question 1 decisively defeated, four bond questions pass easily

Opponents of Question 1 hailed the decisive "No" vote in Tuesday's statewide election, which saw more than 60% of voters rejecting the proposed tax surcharge to fund universal home care for elderly and disabled Mainers.

"Question 1 would have imposed an additional 3.8% tax increase on more than 60,000 Maine families and more than 20,000 businesses, most of them small companies, to create a new $310 million program to fund home care for Mainers regardless of their income," the No on Question 1 coalition stated in a news release sent to Mainebiz. "If passed, Question 1 would have been the largest tax increase in Maine history and would have made Maine the highest taxed state in the country."

The Portland Press Herald reported that with with 413 of 574 state precincts counted, Question 1 received only 37% voter approval.

"The resounding defeat of Question 1 is a huge victory for Maine people, families, businesses and senior and disabled citizens across the state," said Ben Gilman of the Maine State Chamber and campaign manager of the No on Question 1 campaign. "Maine voters said 'no' to higher taxes on families and businesses, and yes to protecting our senior and disabled citizens. Maine voters sent the message loud and clear that policies that harm our hard-working families and businesses and our most vulnerable people have no place in Maine."

Gilman singled out for criticism Maine People's Alliance, which led the petition drive to get Question 1 on the ballot, stating: "Mainers cannot be duped by misleading information and feel-good sound bites promoted by groups like the Maine People's Alliance, and we will not be guinea pigs for out-of-state activists and wealthy super-donors with a national agenda that is wrong for Maine."

Question 1 opponents included Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Maine Hospital Association, Maine Bankers Association, Maine Association of Realtors and Maine Home Care & Hospice Alliance of Maine. Proponents included Mainers for Homecare, Maine People's Alliance and Service Employees International Union.

The measure also was opposed by 40 Maine health care, home care and business organizations, all four Maine candidates for governor, U.S. Sen. Angus King, former Gov. John Baldacci (D), incumbent Gov. Paul LePage and an overwhelming majority of state legislative candidates, including legislative leaders.

"We are pleased with the decisive defeat of Question 1, and looking forward, we believe it is time for Maine to take a hard look at legislating by referendum," said Gilman. "Deciding tax policy and important issues such as how we care for our seniors and disabled citizens in a one-sentence question on the ballot without thorough debate, discussion and the inclusion of all stakeholders is not in anyone's best interest. Nor is it an efficient or wise use of resources. This process must change."

Voters approve $200M in four bonds

Maine voters approved all four bond questions on Tuesday's ballot, which collectively called for borrowing $200 million to pay for a host of transportation projects, improving wastewater treatment facilities and facility upgrades throughout the University of Maine System and at all seven of Maine's community colleges.

Here are the unofficial results reported by Bangor Daily News this morning, based on partial tallies from statewide precincts:

Question 2, 54% Yes, 46% No: $30 million bond issue to improve water quality, support the planning and construction of wastewater treatment facilities and assist homeowners whose homes are served by substandard or malfunctioning wastewater treatment systems:

Question 3: 68% Yes, 32% No: $106 million bond issue, including $101 million for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities and equipment related to ports, piers, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails, which will be used to match an estimated $137 million in federal and other funds, and $5 million for the upgrade of municipal culverts at stream crossings.

Question 4: 54% Yes, 46% No: $49 million bond issue to be matched by at least $49 million in private and public funds to modernize and improve the facilities and infrastructure of Maine's public universities in order to expand workforce development capacity and to attract and retain students to strengthen Maine's economy and future workforce.

University of Maine System Chancellor James H. Page issued the following statement this morning thanking the voters of Maine for supporting Question 4: We look forward to putting these investments to work to produce more of the career-ready graduates Maine employers need to grow their businesses and our economy.

"Combined with program expansions and innovations, the investments approved today will increase four-year degree attainment, educating the nurses, engineers, teachers, and other professionals Maine needs. We will be able to serve and support more career-focused adults in communities across the state and attract more young students to our public university campuses where we provide an affordable, high-quality education that leads directly to opportunities in the Maine workforce."

Question 5: 64% Yes, 36% No: $15 million bond issue to improve educational programs by upgrading facilities at all seven of Maine's community colleges, described by the community colleges as essential to providing Maine students "with access to high-skill, low-cost technical and career educations."

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