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Maine University System Bond, Question 2 (2013)

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Maine Question 2
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Type:legislatively-referred state statute
Referred by:Maine Legislature
Topic:Bond issues
Status:Approved Approveda

The Maine University System Bond, Question 2 , 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 updating existing laboratory and classroom facilities of the University of Maine System in order to enhance educational and employment opportunities for state citizens and students.[1]

State Representative W. Bruce MacDonald (D-61) sponsored the measure in the state legislature as HP 553.[2]

Out of the total bond amounts that were on the ballot, Proposal 2’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 2
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 132,759 60.2%
No84,64738.4%
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 enhance educational and employment opportunities for Maine citizens and students by updating and improving existing laboratory and classroom facilities of the University of Maine System statewide?

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 that were on the ballot, Proposal 1's amount was 9.36% 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]

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

Proceeds from the sale of these bonds would be spent by the University of Maine System for

the following purposes and in the following amounts:

$5,500,000 Orono campus – to invest in renovations, capital improvements and equipment in classrooms and laboratories to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

$1,200,000 Augusta and Bangor campuses – to renovate and upgrade science and nursing laboratories.

$1,200,000 Farmington campus – to renovate the science facilities in Preble Hall and Ricker Hall, including approximately four laboratories.

$1,200,000 Fort Kent campus – to renovate and expand the nursing laboratory and to support geographic information system technology for applications in the forestry industry.

$1,200,000 Machias campus – to renovate and improve Powers Hall (including repairing its exterior), which currently houses music and art classrooms, the performing art center, art gallery, administrative offices and student services, and for laboratory upgrades in the science building.

$1,200,000 Presque Isle campus – to renovate and upgrade space, equipment and furnishings (including microscopes and fume hoods) in laboratories for the science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.

$4,000,000 University of Southern Maine campuses (Portland, Gorham, and Lewiston) – to renovate science laboratories, including those for biology, chemistry, physics, geosciences, environmental sciences, nursing and occupational therapy.

Support

The measure was sponsored by State Representative W. Bruce MacDonald (D-61).[2]

Supporters

Officials

Former officials

Organizations

  • Maine Chamber of Commerce[8]

Arguments

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 Representative Ann Peoples (D-125) said, "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."[10]

Former State Representative Edward Legg (D-141) said, "The impact of bonds is evidenced by the phenomenal growth of the University of New England... UNE’s total economic impact on Maine in 2012-2013 is estimated to be $738 million. Much of this success story would not have occurred if Maine’s government and voters had not invested in UNE and in other of our state’s educational and research institutions."[7]

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:[11]

  • The bonds will improve the quality of education in Maine through lab and classroom improvements.
  • Improving the quality of education in Maine will help create a more qualified workforce and future jobs.
  • Use of bonds would result in immediate construction jobs.
  • Currently, interest rates are at a historic low. Borrowing money now will cost less than borrowing later.

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:[11]

  • 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, "[T]he university system requires investment in the facilities it has that support growing fields that are key to the future of the university system and to Maine’s economy."[12]
  • The Forecaster said, "We urge voters to say yes to all five bond issues on Nov. 5."[13]
  • Portland Press Herald said, “Question 2 would provide $15.5 million to the University of Maine System for science- and technology-related upgrades at each of its seven campuses... 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.”[14]

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.[15][16]

Legislative vote

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

House vote

Maine Question 2, HP 553 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 103 79.84%
No2620.16%

Senate vote

Maine Question 2, HP 553 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 31 91.18%
No38.82%

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.[17] 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.”[18]

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 782 (HP 533)," 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. Maine Secretary of State, "Maine Citizen’s Guide to the Referendum Election 2013," accessed November 9, 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 Seacoast Online, "Bonds propel Maine economy," July 25, 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. Portland Press Herald, "Maine Voices: Bond compromise will address critical transportation, education needs," August 26, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 League of Women Voters of Maine, "Easy-To-Read Voter Guide," accessed October 22, 2013
  12. Bangor Daily News, "Yes on Question 2: Why $15.5 million in renovations at Maine’s universities is a smart investment," October 30, 2013
  13. The Forecaster, "Editorial: Approve all five on Nov. 5," October 28, 2013
  14. Portland Press Herald, “Our View: Mainers should vote ‘yes’ on all bond issues Nov. 5”, October 27, 2013
  15. Portland Press Herald, "Legislature sends $150 million in bonds to Maine voters," August 30, 2013
  16. Bangor Daily News, “LePage calls Legislature to special session to vote on bond deal”, August 21, 2013
  17. Maine Secretary of State, "Secretary of State Announces Order of Bond Questions for November 5, 2013 Referendum Election Ballot," August 30, 2013
  18. State & Capitol, "Ballot order drawn for November bond votes," August 30, 2013