Maine School Finance and Tax Reform, Question 1 (2003)

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The Maine School Finance and Tax Reform Initiative, also known as Question 1, was on the November 4, 2003 ballot in Maine as an indirect initiated state statute, where 1A was approved while 1B and 1C were defeated. The measure asked voters to approve one of three choices. The winning option was the citizen initiated measure, 1A, which provided that the state would pay at least 55 percent of the total costs of public education for kindergarten through grade 12, and 100 percent of the mandated special educational services. It did not provide for a specific revenue source to achieve this funding. The competing measure, 1B, would have increased the states share of funding kindergarten to grade 12 public education from 50 to 55 percent over 5 years. It would have established new essential programs and services model, adopted by the legislature, as the basis for calculating state and local shares of education funding. It also would have expanded the Maine Residents Property Tax Program and restored the Maine Homestead Property Tax Exemption. The last option, 1C, was the option to vote against both 1A and 1B.[1][2]


See also: Laws governing competing measures in the initiative process in Maine

In three-way contests regarding indirect initiated state statutes like this one, the winning measure must receive over half of the votes. Since 1A only received 37.79 percent of the vote, it was automatically subject to a carryover vote in 2004, where it was confirmed and able to be enacted.

Election results

Maine Question 1 (2003)
Approveda 1A: Citizen Initiative 185,392 37.79%
Defeatedd 1B: Competing Measure 171,782 35.02%
Defeatedd 1C: Against A and B 133,349 27.19%

Election results via: Maine Secretary of State, Elections Division: Referendum Election Tabulations, November 4, 2003

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

ME2003Nov Question 1.PNG



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 referendum requires the voters to choose among a proposed law initiated by petition (1A), a competing measure approved by the Legislature for submittal to the voters (1B), or to reject both (1C).


AN ACT to Enact the School Finance and Tax Reform Act of 2003

This initiated legislation provides that the State shall pay at least 55% of the total costs of public education for kindergarten through grade 12, and 100% of the costs of special education services that are mandated by federal or state law. The proposal does not specify how the State would fund those costs. Instead, it directs the Legislature’s taxation committee to report out legislation by March 1, 2004, to generate the additional revenue necessary to achieve these funding levels.

In addition, 2% of the funds appropriated by the Legislature under this Act would be deposited in a new fund, entitled the "Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Educational Services," for distribution to schools and municipalities that are able to demonstrate significant and sustainable savings in educational services costs through collaborative efforts, regionalization or consolidation.

Another fund, entitled the "Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Local and Regional Services," would be created using 2% of the tax revenue deposited in the municipal revenue sharing account and distributed to those municipalities that can demonstrate significant and sustainable cost savings in the delivery of governmental services through regional and collaborative efforts.


RESOLUTION, Proposing a Competing Measure under the Constitution of Maine To Reduce the Cost of Local Government through Increased State Education Funding and Provide Property Tax Relief

This resolution, approved by the Legislature for submittal to the voters as a competing measure to the citizen initiative described above, would increase the State’s share of funding kindergarten to grade 12 public education from 50% to 55% over five years. It would establish the new essential programs and services model, adopted by the Legislature this spring, as the basis for calculating state and local shares of education funding. The Commissioner of Education would determine the maximum dollar amount of the local cost share expectation, as well as the local mill rate that is required to raise the total amount.

This measure also would expand the Maine Residents Property Tax Program, commonly referred to at the "circuit breaker" program, by increasing the income eligibility limits over a 3-year period, as well as by increasing the amount of taxes that would be refundable as a percentage of household income.

In addition, the measure would restore the Maine Homestead Property Tax Exemption for up to the just value of $7,000 for all homesteads owned by permanent residents of the state. This exemption had been eliminated by budget legislation enacted this spring.

The Department of Education and the Bureau of Revenue Services would be required by January 2, 2010 to analyze and report on the effectiveness of this resolution in lowering property taxes and in meeting the goals of funding public education, and the Legislature’s taxation committee would report out new legislation, if necessary, by March 1, 2010, to accomplish those goals.


A vote for Option 1A approves the citizen initiative.

A vote for Option 1B approves the competing measure.

A vote for Option 1C rejects both the citizen initiative and the competing measure. [3]

Maine Secretary of State [1]

Path to the ballot

See also: Signature requirements for ballot measures in Maine

The initiated measure, Question 1A, was submitted to the state legislature by a petition with 96,151 signatures. Both chambers of the legislature voted to indefinitely postpone voting on the measure on June 13, 2003. Because of Maine's indirect initiative process, the measure was then submitted to a popular vote.[1]

Question 1B was created by a resolution of the state legislature as a competing measure. Section 18 of Article IV, Part Third of the Maine Constitution provides for such competing measures to be submitted as alternatives to an initiated bills.[1]

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