Maine Economic Development and Job Creation, Question 4 (June 2010)

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The Maine Economic Development and Job Creation Bonds Issue, also known as 'Question 4, was on the June 8, 2010 ballot in Maine as a legislatively-referred bond question, where it was approved. The measure issued $23.75 million in bonds to provide for economic development and job creation. These goals were to be achieved through allocations of the bond revenue into the Communities for Maine's Future Program and in historic properties, research and development funds awarded on competitive basis, disbursements to small businesses, fishing, business grants for agriculture, dairy and lumber and the redevelopment at Brunswick Naval Air Station.[1][2][3][4][5]

Election results

Maine Question 4 (June 2010)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 159,084 50.61%
No155,22449.39%

Election results via: Maine Secretary of State, Elections Division, Referendum Election Tabulations, June 8, 2010

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[4]

ME2010June Question 4 SB.PNG [6]

Summary

The following description of the intent and content of this ballot measure was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

This Act would authorize the State to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $23,750,000 for the activities described below.

Proceeds of the sale of bonds in the amount of $1,250,000 would be placed in a new Historic Preservation Revolving Fund to be administered by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. The fund would be used to help qualified nonprofit historic preservation organizations purchase significant historic properties and then re-sell those properties at fair market value to new owners (private, nonprofit or public), subject to an easement or covenant requiring the new owner to preserve, and rehabilitate or restore the properties. Net proceeds from the resale would be repaid to the Fund.

Proceeds of the sale of bonds in the amount of $3,500,000 would be placed in the Communities for Maine’s Future Fund, to be administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development and used to provide matching grants to cities and towns for projects to revitalize, rehabilitate and enhance downtowns, village centers and main streets in the state. Statutory criteria and procedures for administering this fund and the Historic Preservation Revolving Fund would take effect if the bond issue is approved.

The Maine Technology Institute would administer $3,000,000 of the bond proceeds to provide matching grants for research and development and commercialization projects, in accordance with priorities established by the Office of Innovation in the current Science and Technology Action Plan for Maine. The funds would be allocated to projects in the areas of environmental and renewable energy technology, biomedical and biotechnology, aquaculture and marine technology, composite materials technology, advanced technologies for forestry and agriculture, information technology, and precision manufacturing technology to public and private entities in Maine, through a competitive process, and recipients would be required to match these State dollars with an equivalent amount of federal or private funds.

The Department of Economic and Community Development would use another $8,000,000 of the bond proceeds for redevelopment projects at the Brunswick Naval Air Station, including rehabilitating buildings to comply with fire codes and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other site improvements. Up to $4,750,000 of these funds could be used to develop a higher education engineering and economic development center at the site. It is anticipated that these bond funds will leverage $32,500,000 in federal funds.

The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) would administer $1,000,000 of the bond proceeds in the form of grants for food processing for fishing, agricultural, dairy and lumbering industries in the state. If the bond is approved, FAME would be required to establish rules to administer grants from these funds for food processing for the fishing and agricultural industries in the state.

An additional $3,000,000 in bond proceeds would be distributed by FAME through the existing Economic Recovery Loan Program, which provides loans to Maine businesses that do not have sufficient access to credit but demonstrate the ability to survive, preserve and create jobs and repay the obligations. Projects that may be financed must pertain to manufacturing, industrial, recreational or natural resource enterprises in Maine that are determined by the Authority to provide significant public benefits in relation to the amount of the loan. The loan requirements for this program are more fully set forth in Title 10 M.R.S.A. section 1026-J and in rules developed by FAME.

Another $4,000,000 in bond proceeds would be administered by FAME as part of the Small Enterprise Growth Fund, which is used to provide loans to qualifying businesses with 50 or fewer full time equivalent employees and gross sales of $5 million or less that show potential for high growth and public benefit. To qualify, businesses must be engaged in at least one of the following: marine sciences, biotechnology, manufacturing, exports of goods or services outside the state, software development; provision or development of environmental services or technologies, or financial or insurance products or services; production of value-added goods from natural resources; and other enterprises in retail sales, tourism and agricultural production.

The bonds would run for a period not longer than 10 years from the date of issue and would be backed by the full faith and credit of the State. If approved, the bond authorization would take effect 30 days after the Governor’s proclamation of the vote.

A “YES” vote favors authorizing the $23,750,000 bond issue to finance the above activities.

A “NO” vote opposes the bond issue in its entirety. [6]

Office of the Attorney General, [4]

Fiscal note

Treasurer's Statement for the June 8, 2010 ballot

The following debt service description for these bonds was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

Total estimated life time cost is $29,628,125 representing $23,750,000 in principal and $5,878,125 in interest (assuming interest at 4.5% over 10 years). [6]

Office of the Treasurer, [4]

The following fiscal impact statement was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

This bond issue has no significant fiscal impact other than the debt service costs identified above. [6]

Maine Office of Fiscal and Program Review, [4]

Support

Officials

The Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce voted May 20, 2010 to endorse the four bond measures scheduled to appear on the statewide ballot. According to board Chair Michael Ballesteros the bonds were in line with the chamber's interest's of the state's business community. The Portland Chamber of Commerce also supported the bond measures.[7]

Gov. John Baldacci supported the four June 2010 bond measures. In his weekly radio address he said the bonds would help boost the economy, help small businesses and support energy independence. Baldacci noted that he understood the reluctance to vote in favor of the measures but argued that Maine was conservative with borrowing and paid its debt in less than half the time it takes most states.[8][9]

Tactics and strategies

In May 2010 Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, said a coalition was being formed to launch an advertising campaign in support of the bond proposals. According to Connors they were planning to do some "advertising." Connors argued that the bonds will help create jobs.

Some supporters said that although they did support the proposed bonds on the June 8, 2010 ballot, they worried that voters wouldn't readily approve them, particularly because the state and the country was coming out of a recession. Chris Hall, vice president of the Greater Portland Chamber of Commerce said that supporters had to work hard to convince voters. "We did have some members on our board that opposed our endorsement because of those same concerns. But most, more than 60 percent, supported all of the bond package," he said.[10]

Opposition

The Maine Heritage Policy Center was opposed to the bonds that appeared on the June 2010 ballot. Center President Tarren Bragdon said that while bonds were appropriate for some state needs, Maine had too much debt. "It’s our hope that the voters will reject some of these and send a strong message to the politicians in Augusta that if you are not going to be responsible with our credit card, then we will take matters into our own hands and vote no. We are going to say no more debt, not now."[10][11]

Scott Moody, an economist for the center, wrote a study which ultimately concluded that Maine's debt would leave lawmakers with two options: reduce spending or raise taxes. "Before any new debt is approved, Mainers should insist that legislators deal with these ballooning, unfunded retirement liabilities first and foremost," said Moody.[12]

Media editorial positions

Main article: Endorsements of Maine ballot measures, 2010

Support

  • The Bangor Daily News supported Bond Questions 2, 3, 4 and 5, saying

States, unlike the federal government, are unable to spend into the red. That’s a good thing. But with interest rates at historic lows, these bonds are a bargain for building and rebuilding Maine. They should be passed. [6]

—Bangor Daily News editorial board, [13]

  • The Journal Tribune said,

Last week the Journal Tribune endorsed the four bond issues on Maine’s June 8 ballot. We recommended “Yes” votes on Questions 2-5, proposed bond issues that serve the interests of Maine’s people. [6]

—Journal Tribune editorial board, [14]

Path to the ballot

See also: Maine legislatively-referred state statutes

To place the measure on the ballot, the measure was required to receive at least a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.

See also

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