Maine Transportation Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Bond, Question 3 (2013)

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Maine Question 3
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Type:legislatively-referred state statute
Referred by:Maine Legislature
Topic:Bond issues
Status:Approved Approveda

The Maine Transportation Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Bond, Question 3, 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 $100,000,000 bond for the stated purposes of reconstructing and rehabilitating highways, bridges and facilities related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation and transit and would match an estimated $154,000,000 in federal and other funds.[1]

State Senator Patrick Flood (R-21) sponsored the measure in the state legislature as SP 337.[2]

Out of the total bond amounts that were on the ballot, Proposal 3’s amount was 66.89% 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 3
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 157,190 71.3%
No59,89527.2%
These results are from the Maine Bureau of Elections.

Text of measure

The official ballot text read as follows:[4]

Do you favor a $100,000,000 bond issue for reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities or equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation and transit, to be used to match an estimated $154,000,000 in federal and other funds?

[5]

Background

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 that were on the ballot, Proposal 3’s amount was 66.89% 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 bond money was distributed to projects as follows:[6]

Proceeds from the sale of these bonds would be administered by the Department of Transportation for the following purposes:
  • Highways – Forty-four million dollars ($44,000,000) would be expended to reconstruct or rehabilitate state highways that have been designated as Priority 1, 2 or 3 by the Department of Transportation in accordance with the state statute (23 M.R.S. § 73(7)) that requires the Department to establish priorities, customer service levels and goals for capital improvements to the State’s public highways. Specific projects are identified in the Department’s Work Plan, which is published every year and is available at www.mainedot.gov. It is anticipated that these bond proceeds would make the State eligible for approximately forty-eight million dollars ($48,000,000) in federal matching funds.
  • Secondary roads – Five million dollars ($5,000,000) would be used to repair secondary roads in partnership with municipalities pursuant to the existing Municipal Partnership Initiatives program described on the Department’s web site at www.maine.gov/mdot/csd/mlrc/mpi.htm, and the Secondary Road Program established in statute (23 M.R.S. § 1803-C). Both programs generally require municipalities to contribute 50% or more of the project costs. Accordingly, these bond proceeds are expected to be matched by approximately five million dollars ($5,000,000) in local funds from the participating municipalities.
  • Bridges – Twenty-seven million dollars ($27,000,000) would be expended to replace or rehabilitate existing bridges. Specific projects are outlined in the Department’s Work Plan, as noted above. These funds are expected to make the State eligible for approximately $30,000,000 in federal funds.
  • Multi-modal projects – Twenty-four million dollars ($24,000,000) would be spent on a variety of projects, including facilities and equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, aviation, railroads (both passenger and freight), and transit (public transportation), as well as acquisition of property and capital improvements at the International Marine Terminal in Portland. The investment of these bond proceeds is expected to generate up to fifty-two million dollars ($52,000,000) in federal funds and up to nineteen million dollars ($19,000,000) in local and private funds.[5]

Support

The measure was sponsored by State Senator Patrick Flood (R-21).[2]

Supporters

Officials

Organizations

  • Maine Better Transportation Association[9]
  • Maine Chamber of Commerce[10]

Arguments

State government officials provided the following arguments in favor of Question 3:

  • 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.”[11]
  • Assistant Senate Majority Leader Anne Haskell (D-9) said, "A safe and strong transportation network is the foundation of a growing economy everywhere in our state. Investing in our roads and bridges will create jobs now in the construction industry, and provide a strong infrastructure to prepare our state for the future.”[8]
  • Governor Paul LePage (R) said, “Infrastructure projects create good-paying jobs in the construction industry, and our roads, bridges and ports are important economic drivers that help attract and retain jobs. We are improving our transportation network, and we are putting Mainers back to work."[12]
  • State Representative Ann Peoples (D-125) noted, "Our roads need attention. They get poor grades from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which also found that their poor condition costs Maine motorists $246 million annually in additional vehicle repairs and operating costs. That equates to $245 per motorist -- real money out of household budgets."[13]

Rep. Archie Verow (D-21) and Rep. Ken Theriault (D-2) wrote an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News in support of Question 3:[14]

  • "Maine has more highway miles than any other state in New England," but has "the lowest level of funding per mile." Thirty-three precent of roads are in "poor or mediocre condition" and 33% of bridges are "structurally deficient or functionally obsolete," according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
  • In Maine, "the average driver" spends $300 per year on "vehicle repairs" caused by "poor road conditions," according to the Maine Better Transportation Association. As an aggregate, this costs the people of Maine, $301 million annually.
  • In 2011, 136 traffic fatalities occurred in Maine. In 33% of these accidents, road conditions were a major factor.
  • Currently, 26% of construction workers are unemployed in Maine. Question 3 would create 2,800 new construction jobs.
  • Question 3 won't only affect construction jobs, but will benefit the state economy by providing better conditions for shipping and transporting commodities.

The League of Women Voters of Maine issued a voter guide outlining arguments for and against each referendum. The following are their listed arguments for:[15]

  • The bonds will make Maine roads and bridges safer.
  • Improvements in transportation encourage commerce and tourism.
  • Use of these bonds would create jobs and aid the state economy.
  • Currently, interest rates are at a historic low. Borrowing money now will cost less than borrowing later.
  • Maine's bonds will be aided by the federal government's $154 million fund.

Opposition

Opponents

Arguments

Several Republican lawmakers voted against the measures over fiscal concerns and a belief that infrastructure maintenance should be paid for out of the state’s existing revenue.[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 against:[15]

  • Maine would add $100 million to its total debt.
  • It will cost a total of $121.7 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, "Transportation investments are a good use of the state’s bonding capacity. The return on investment — both short-term in the form of construction jobs and long-term in the form of lasting improvements on which the state’s economy will depend — is clear."[16]
  • The Forecaster said, "We urge voters to say yes to all five bond issues on Nov. 5."[17]
  • Portland Press Herald said, “The bond would provide a much-needed injection of life into Maine’s transportation infrastructure, which a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers gives a C-minus overall. Specifically, the report gives Maine roads a D... 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.”[18]

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 .[7][19]

House vote

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

Maine Question 3, SP 377 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 114 94.21%
No75.79%

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.[20] 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.”[21]

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 1095 (SP 377)”, 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. 5.0 5.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  6. Maine Secretary of State, "Maine Citizen’s Guide to the Referendum Election 2013," accessed November 9, 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 Portland Press Herald, "Legislature sends $150 million in bonds to Maine voters," August 30, 2013
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Maine Senate Democrats, "Senate Approves Jobs Bonds," August 29, 2013
  9. Maine Better Transportation Association
  10. Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "Supporters of Maine Bond Package Gear up for Campaign," September 5, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 Maine House GOP, “House Enacts Bipartisan Bond Package,” August 29, 2013
  12. Maine Sun Journal, "Maine lawmakers OK $149.5M education, road bonds," August 30, 2013
  13. Portland Press Herald, "Maine Voices: Bond compromise will address critical transportation, education needs," August 26, 2013
  14. Bangor Daily News, "Transportation bond gives Maine a needed boost," October 29, 2013
  15. 15.0 15.1 League of Women Voters of Maine, "Easy-To-Read Voter Guide," accessed October 22, 2013
  16. Bangor Daily News, "Yes on Question 3: $100 million for smooth roads, fewer car repairs, better Maine economy," October 30, 2013
  17. The Forecaster, "Editorial: Approve all five on Nov. 5," October 28, 2013
  18. Portland Press Herald, “Our View: Mainers should vote ‘yes’ on all bond issues Nov. 5”, October 27, 2013
  19. Bangor Daily News, “LePage calls Legislature to special session to vote on bond deal”, August 21, 2013
  20. Maine Secretary of State, "Secretary of State Announces Order of Bond Questions for November 5, 2013 Referendum Election Ballot," August 30, 2013
  21. State & Capitol, "Ballot order drawn for November bond votes," August 30, 2013