Maine Community College System Building Upgrade Bond, Question 5 (2013)

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Maine Question 5
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Type:legislatively-referred state statute
Referred by:Maine Legislature
Topic:Bond issues
Status:Approved Approveda

The Maine Community College System Building Upgrade Bond, Question 5, was on the November 5, 2013 ballot in Maine as a legislatively-referred state statute. It was approved.

The measure authorized the issuance of a $15,500,000 bond for the stated purposes of upgrading buildings, classrooms and laboratories on the 7 campuses of the Maine Community College System in order to increase capacity to serve more students through expanded academic programs in health care, precision machining, information technology, criminal justice and others.[1]

State Senator Emily Cain (D-30) sponsored the measure in the state legislature as SP 226.[2]

Out of the total bond amounts that were on the ballot, Proposal 5’s amount was 10.37% of the total. This measure will go into effect 30 days after the election results are officially certified.[3]

Election results

Below are the official election results:

Question 5
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 143,026 64.9%
No75,07334.1%
These results are from the Maine Bureau of Elections.

Text of measure

The official ballot text read as follows:[4]

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

Do you favor a $15,500,000 bond issue to upgrade buildings, classrooms and laboratories on the 7 campuses of the Maine Community College System in order to increase capacity to serve more students through expanded programs in health care, precision machining, information technology, criminal justice and other key programs?

Background

In 2012, voters defeated Question 2, an education bond, totaling $11.3 million. In 2013, education leaders requested that the legislature reattempt to put education bonds before voters, but this time as three separate bonds, rather than one larger one for all three institutions. Maine Community College President John Fitzsimmons elaborated, “When you put several organizations together, it really dilutes the message so it gets confusing for the public.”[5]

The election that took place in Maine on November 5, 2013 is known as a referendum election. According to the Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, "Referendum Elections are held to provide Maine’s citizens an opportunity to vote on People’s Veto Referenda, Direct Initiatives of Legislation (i.e. Citizen Initiatives), Bond Issues, other referenda proposed by the Legislature, and Constitutional Amendments. Referendum elections are an important part of the heritage of public participation in Maine."[1]

Fiscal note

The state's treasurer published the following information in an official statement made regarding Maine's general bond obligations:[1]

Maine2013ballot.png

The following is a summary of general obligation bond debt of the state of Maine as of September 30, 2013.


Bonds outstanding (Issued & Maturing through 2022):

Fund Principal Interest TOTAL
Highway Fund $107,505,000 $17,407,008 $124,912,008
General Fund $239,665,000 $35,538,895 $275,203,895
TOTAL $347,170,000 $52,945,903 $400,115,903


  • 9/30/2013 Unissued Bonds Authorized by Voters: $104,577,809
  • Unissued Bonds Authorized by the Constitution and Laws: $99,000,000
  • Total Authorized but Unissued Bonds: $203,577,809
  • The total amounts that must be paid in the present fiscal year for bonded debt already outstanding (for FY2014): $98,183,857


Since voters approved all five bond measures and each was issued for the full statutory period authorized, an estimate of the total interest and principal that will be paid is $182,390,000, representing $149,500,000 in principal and $32,890,000 in interest.


Out of the total bond amounts on the ballot, Proposal 5’s amount was 10.37% of the total. The following is a comparative table of all five bond measures:

Measure Amount Percentage of Total
Question 1 $14,000,000 9.36%
Question 2 $15,500,000 10.37%
Question 3 $100,000,000 66.89%
Question 4 $4,500,000 3.01%
Question 5 $15,500,000 10.37%
Total: $149,500,000 100.00%

Distribution

The Maine Community College System listed how some of the $15.5 million bond shall be distributed between the state's seven community colleges. Their list was as follows:[6]

Southern Maine Community College, South Portland, Maine
York County Community College, Wells, Maine

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

  • Central Maine Community College (Auburn): $2.35 million for a new building that will house science labs, classrooms, and new technologies to expand existing high demand degree programs and add new ones.
  • Eastern Maine Community College (Bangor): $2.45 million to expand Maine Hall, the college's main academic building. The new addition will include classrooms, laboratories, and student life space to strengthen and expand the college's academic programs.
  • Kennebec Valley Community College (Fairfield/Hinckley): $2 million to renovate and add space to strengthen and expand the college's precision machining, electrical line-worker, culinary arts, and early childhood degree programs. Funds will also enable KVCC to improve air quality systems, remove hazardous materials, purchase classroom technology, and retrofit and expand agricultural structures.
  • Northern Maine Community College (Presque Isle): $900,000 to convert Aroostook Hall into classrooms, labs, and offices that will enable the college to expand its allied health programs. Funds will also enable energy efficiencies and the purchase of new classroom equipment.
  • Southern Maine Community College (South Portland/Brunswick): $3.4 million to renovate buildings at the new Brunswick campus to add classrooms and labs, as well as space for student support services and offices. The bond will also fund new classroom technologies to increase the capacity of the college's integrated manufacturing program on the South Portland campus.
  • Washington County Community College (Calais): $1 million to upgrade, retrofit, and equip key academic buildings that will support and strengthen programs in heavy equipment maintenance and operation, health sciences, and power sports equipment/small engine technology.
  • York County Community College (Wells): York County Community College (Wells): $3.4 million for the construction of a new academic building to address overcrowding and expand offerings in the college's associate degree and workforce development programs. The building will include classrooms and laboratories and an expanded student learning center.

Support

The measure was sponsored by State Senator Emily Cain (D-30).[2]

Supporters

Officials

Former officials

Organizations

  • Citizens for Higher Education[7]
  • Maine Community College System[6]
  • Maine Chamber of Commerce[8]

Individuals

  • Chris McCormick, President and CEO of L.L. Bean[7]

Arguments

Government officials offered the following arguments in support of Question 5:

House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette (R-25) said, “I’m glad we were able to work out a responsible bond package that all parties agreed on. Hopefully this bipartisan compromise sets a new tone for relations at the state House.”[9]

State Senator Emily Cain (D-30) stated, "With these investments, Maine’s universities and colleges will strengthen and expand opportunities for thousands of Maine students. Upgrading and renovating science labs, STEM classrooms, and nursing facilities will ensure graduates have the skills and training they need to qualify for the jobs of the future."[10]

State Representative Ann Peoples (D-125) noted, "We need updated facilities for higher education so that our students graduate with 21st century educations and skill sets. That's why $34 million of the $150 million will go to higher education projects to renovate academic facilities and build new ones. This plan will not only help Maine workers gain new skills, it will help our state be a place where workers want to stay and use the skills they've gained."[11]

The League of Women Voters of Maine issued a voter guide outlining arguments for and against each referendum. The following are their listed arguments in favor:[12]

  • The bonds will help community colleges develop and maintain key academic programs.
  • Some buildings will receive improved energy efficiency technologies.
  • Currently, interest rates are at a historic low. Borrowing money now will cost less than borrowing later.
  • The bond will be matched by federal funds up to $14 million.

Other arguments in favor included:

  • The Maine Community College System stated, "[The] Bond will enable the community colleges to prepare more Maine people for high wage/high demand jobs." They provided a list of how some money would be distributed within the system.[6]

Opposition

Opponents

Arguments

Several Republican lawmakers voted against the measures over fiscal concerns.[9]

The League of Women Voters of Maine issued a voter guide outlining arguments for and against each referendum. The following are their listed arguments against:[12]

  • Maine would add $15.5 million to its total debt.
  • It will cost a total of $18.7 million in principle and interests in ten years.
  • Other projects may be more worthy of the state's money.

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Maine ballot measures, 2013

Support

  • Bangor Daily News said, "Despite an increased need, state funds have lagged. In 2000, state funding represented 52 percent of the system’s budget, Fitzsimmons said. This year, it makes up 29 percent. The bond fills a demonstrated need and has great potential to provide a valuable economic return. We encourage a “yes” vote Nov. 5."[13]
  • The Forecaster said, "We urge voters to say yes to all five bond issues on Nov. 5."[14]
  • Portland Press Herald said, “And Question 5 would provide $15.5 million for upgrades to buildings, classrooms and laboratories at the state’s seven community colleges... Voters should approve the five bond questions, each of which represents worthwhile projects that are long overdue... What Maine can’t afford is to fall behind on the investments that will help the economy move forward.”[15]

Path to the ballot

See also: Legislatively-referred state statute

Special session

Governor Paul LePage (R) agreed to sign off on the bonds in August 2013. The delay in signature was caused by a stalemate between the governor and the legislative majority party, the Democrats. Democrats supported the transportation bond, but wanted to ensure that state borrowing included money for other sectors, such as education. After the two disputing parties agreed on $150,000,000 in bonds, LePage called for a special session to approve the measures for the ballot.[16][17]

Legislative vote

On August 29, 2013, the both houses of the Maine Legislature approved Question 5 for the ballot. A 2/3rds approval vote is required to put bond questions before voters.

House vote

Maine Question 5, SP 226 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 120 93.75%
No86.25%

Senate vote

Maine Question 5, SP 226 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 34 100.00%
No00.00%

Order of questions

On August 30, 2013, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (D) and Attorney General Janet Mills (D) determined the order of the bond questions for the November 2013 ballot selecting the measures at random.[18] Dunlap explained the importance of order of measures on the ballot, saying, “If you have a lot of questions, there is an anecdotally demonstrated history of ballot fatigue. With a five question ballot, I know there’s always concern about being Question 1 versus Question 5 because of that sort of historic precedent that the further down the ballot you get, the more of a struggle it is to get voters to support you.”[19]

Similar measures

See also

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External links

Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, "Upcoming Elections," accessed October 6, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 State of Maine Legislature, “Summary of LD 636 (SP 226)”, accessed October 7, 2013
  3. Maine.gov, "Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election," accessed November 13, 2013
  4. Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions,"Upcoming elections - November 5, 2013 referendum election," accessed October 6, 2013
  5. Portland Press Herald, "Higher education leaders pitch bonds," October 28, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Maine Community College System, "The 2013 Bond Ballot," accessed October 8, 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Boston.com, "Maine group campaigns for community colleges bond," October 19, 2013
  8. Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "Supporters of Maine Bond Package Gear up for Campaign," September 5, 2013
  9. 9.0 9.1 Maine House GOP, “House Enacts Bipartisan Bond Package,” August 29, 2013
  10. Maine Senate Democrats, "Senate Approves Job Bonds," August 29, 2013
  11. Portland Press Herald, "Maine Voices: Bond compromise will address critical transportation, education needs," August 26, 2013
  12. 12.0 12.1 League of Women Voters of Maine, "Easy-To-Read Voter Guide," accessed October 22, 2013
  13. Bangor Daily News, "Yes on Question 5: Help more Mainers get smarter," October 31, 2013
  14. The Forecaster, "Editorial: Approve all five on Nov. 5," October 28, 2013
  15. Portland Press Herald, “Our View: Mainers should vote ‘yes’ on all bond issues Nov. 5”, October 27, 2013
  16. Portland Press Herald, "Legislature sends $150 million in bonds to Maine voters," August 30, 2013
  17. Bangor Daily News, “LePage calls Legislature to special session to vote on bond deal”, August 21, 2013
  18. Maine Secretary of State, "Secretary of State Announces Order of Bond Questions for November 5, 2013 Referendum Election Ballot," August 30, 2013
  19. State & Capitol, "Ballot order drawn for November bond votes," August 30, 2013