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Maine Energy Job Creation, Independence and Efficiency, Question 2 (June 2010)

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The Maine Energy Job Creation, Independence and Efficiency, also known as Question 2, was on the June 8, 2010 ballot in Maine as a legislatively-referred state statute, where it was approved. The measure issued $26.5 million in bonds to fund energy efficiency bonds for weatherization and energy efficiency projects, infrastructure and energy efficiency upgrades at campuses of the University of Maine System, the Community College System and the Maritime Academy and creation of a fund to develop ocean wind energy demonstration sites, which was intended to create jobs.[1][2][3][4]

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Hannah Pingree and cosponsored by Rep. Seth Berry, Rep. Emily Ann Cain, Rep. John Piotti, Sen. Bill Diamond and Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell.

Election results

Maine Question 2 (2010)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 187,947 59.22%
No129,43540.78%

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:[3]

ME2010June Question 2 SB.PNG [5]

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 $26,500,000, for projects as described below. 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.

Proceeds of the sale of bonds would be used to upgrade infrastructure and improve energy efficiency at all campuses of the following institutions, up to the following amounts:

$9,500,000 for the University of Maine System;
$5,000,000 for the Maine Community College System; and
$1,000,000 for the Maine Maritime Academy

The remaining $11,000,000 of the bond proceeds would be placed in the Maine Marine Wind Energy Demonstration Site Fund created by the Legislature to provide funds for research, development and product innovation associated with developing one or more ocean wind energy demonstration sites. Funds could be used to conduct siting studies for offshore wind sites, and to design, develop prototypes for, and test offshore structures, composites and components that could be manufactured in Maine. This Fund would be administered by the University of Maine. It is anticipated that funds from this portion of the bond proceeds would leverage $24,500,000 in additional funds from other sources.

If approved, the bond authorization would take effect 30 days after the Governor’s proclamation of the vote.

A “YES” vote favors authorizing the $26,500,000 bond issue to finance the above activities.

A “NO” vote opposes the bond issue in its entirety. [5]

Office of the Attorney General, [3]

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 $33,058,750 representing $26,500,000 in principal and $6,558,750 in interest (assuming interest at 4.5% over 10 years). [5]

Office of the Treasurer, [3]

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. [5]

Maine Office of Fiscal and Program Review, [3]

Support

The Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce voted May 20, 2010 to endorse the four bond measures that appeared 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.[6]

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 took most states.[7][8]

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 would 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 were 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.[9]

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."[9][10]

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.[11]

Media endorsements

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. [5]

—Bangor Daily News, [12]

  • The Brunswick Times Record said,

We need only to look at the catastrophic BP oil spill occurring in the Gulf of Mexico to find a compelling reason to approve this bond and thereby advance our state’s efforts to reduce our consumption of oil. Pursuing alternative energy sources such as wind power, as well as making our public buildings more energy efficient and less costly to heat and keep well-lit, is a sensible investment in our state’s future. This bond addresses both of those goals and, like the other bonds on the June 8 ballot, it has the additional benefit of creating jobs at a time when our state’s unemployment rate is slightly more than 8 percent," said the editorial board. [5]

—Brunswick Times Record, [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. [5]

—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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